## I would like to know a little more about the ac slip ring motor and its uses, pa…

#### I would like to know a little more about the ac slip ring motor and its uses, particularly in elevators. – M

A normal induction motor uses a set of stationary electromagnets to produce a magnetic field that seems to rotate rapidly around the motor’s rotating central component—its “rotor.” The rotor consists of a cylindrical aluminum metal cage and the rotating magnetic field causes currents to flow in the cage so that it becomes magnetic. The nature of the magnetism in the rotor causes it to be dragged along with the rotating magnetic fields around it and it begins to turn with those fields. When you first turn on the induction motor, the stationary rotor leaps into rotation as it tries to follow the spinning magnetic fields. That sudden start is acceptable for many applications, but you wouldn’t want it in an elevator—the sudden starting of the elevator car that would accompany the sudden starting of its motor would throw the occupants to the floor. Instead, the aluminum cage in the rotor is replaced by a group of wires that are connected by way of metal ring (the “slip rings”) and some stationary conductive brushes to some components outside the rotor. During the starting process, the currents that are induced in the rotor’s wires are limited by the components outside the rotor. The rotor starts spinning gradually and gracefully. When the rotor has reached full speed, the brushes are retracted from the slip rings and the slip rings are shorted together so that the rotor behaves like the aluminum cage of a normal induction motor.

## What is the difference between a single-phase electric motor and a three phase m…

#### What is the difference between a single-phase electric motor and a three phase motor? Does that make one of them more efficient, better, or longer lasting than the other? — EJ, Houston, TX

To keep the center component or “rotor” of an electric motor spinning, the magnetic poles of the electromagnets surrounding the rotor must rotate around it. That way, the rotor will be perpetually chasing the rotating magnetic poles. With single-phase electric power, producing that rotating magnetic environment isn’t easy. Many single-phase motors use capacitors to provide time-delayed electric power to some of their electromagnets. These electromagnets then produce magnetic poles that turn on and off at times that are delayed relative to the poles of the other electromagnets. The result is magnetic poles that seem to rotate around the rotor and that start it turning. While the capacitor is often unnecessary once the rotor has reached its normal operating speed, the starting process is clearly rather complicated in a single phase motor.

In a three phase motor, the complicated time structure of the currents flowing through the three power wires makes it easy to produce the required rotating magnetic environment. With the electromagnets surrounding the rotor powered by three-phase electricity, the motor turns easily and without any starting capacitor. In general, three phase motors start more easily and are somewhat more energy efficient during operation than single phase motors.

## How does an electric motor work? – BR

#### How does an electric motor work? – BR

An electric motor uses the attractive and repulsive forces between magnetic poles to twist a rotating object (the rotor) around in a circle. Both the rotor and the stationary structure (the stator) are magnetic and their magnetic poles are initially arranged so that the rotor must turn in a particular direction in order to bring its north poles closer to the stator’s south poles and vice versa. The rotor thus experiences a twist (what physicists call a torque) and it undergoes an angular acceleration—it begins to rotate. But the magnets of the rotor and stator aren’t all permanent magnets. At least some of the magnets are electromagnets. In a typical motor, these electromagnets are designed so that their poles change just as the rotor’s north poles have reached the stator’s south poles. After the poles change, the rotor finds itself having to continue turning in order to bring its north poles closer to the stator’s south poles and it continues to experience a twist in the same direction. The rotor continues to spin in this fashion, always trying to bring its north poles close to the south poles of the stator and its south poles close to the north poles of the stator, but always frustrated by a reversal of the poles just as that goal is in sight.

## Does the monorail at Disneyland and the metro in D.C. run on the idea of direct …

#### Does the monorail at Disneyland and the metro in D.C. run on the idea of direct current motors? Since they reverse directions? Is it like plugging the train in backwards?

Those trains probably run on AC motors, because then they can use transformers to transfer power between circuits. Most likely, these trains use induction motors. To reverse the direction of the train, the engineer reverses the direction in which magnetic poles in the motors’ stators circle the motors’ rotors. When the poles reverse directions, the rotor has to reverse its direction, too, so that it chases those poles around in a circle.