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Resolving the Issues with Flywheel Position SensorsFor the past few years, the Advanced Electrical Systems Branch here at NASA Glenn has been pursuing research in the area of flywheels. The purpose of these pursuits has been t o explore the potential for flywheels to replace current battery-powered systems in space. So far it has been learned that flywheels offer large momentum storage capacity, comparatively small volume, high durability, and near- complete discharge capabilities, all of which are advancements over the existing nickel hydrogen and nickel cadmium batteries. Another significant advantage of flywheels is the potential they offer for combining the function of attitude control with energy storage. During the summer of 2004, I worked with Dr. Barbara Kenny in the Advanced Electrical Systems Branch, supporting the work she is doing by analyzing and testing some new components for the new Generation-2 flywheel. To monitor the speed and angular position of the flywheel rotor, a once-around (OAR) signal along with a sensorless algorithm is used. The OAR signal is used for the magnetic bearings that keep the flywheel suspended for frictionless operation. The sensorless algorithm is used for the flywheel motor/generator control. The OAR is generated from position sensors that monitor a circular plate. The plate has a cut down the middle such that one half of the circle is on a slightly lower level than the other. Every half-turn, or 180, the sensors detect the "cut" on the plate, and trigger the OAR, telling the computer that the rotor has made half a revolution. This, however, doesn't provide needed detailed information about the angular position of the rotor, since it only provides a signal alert every half- revolution. This is enough information for the magnetic bearing control but is insufficient for the motor/generator control. A new resolver was designed such that it would give continuous angle information rather than the 180 degree information of the OAR. The new resolver has two separate observable pieces: a flat middle section to monitor vertical motion, and an angled section around the circumference, which, when observed from above, produces a sine-wave displacement through the entire 360" revolution. My first job when I arrived this summer was to calibrate the sensors that would be mounted on the inside of the flywheel casing to monitor the position (angular and vertical) of the shaft. After calibration, I used the sensors to evaluate voltage outputs created by position differences between two pairs of sensors on the angled portion of the resolver for eight different angular positions, moving the resolver vertically and laterally through its entire potential range of motion. The results of these tests will be used to determine the rotor angular (and axial) position from the sensor readings once the new flywheel unit is assembled. The sensorless algorighm mentioned above consists of two operations: the signal injection method and the back electro-motive force (EMF). The signal injection is meant to work at low speeds, while the back EMF algorithm is meant to work at higher speeds. Both work together to determine the correct estimate of rotor position and speed based on the measured motor/generator current. It was determined that we wanted to know exactly how accurate our estimation methods were, and so a resolver (a commercially available mechanical sensor mounted to the motor/generator shaft to measure rotor position and speed) and a "Resolver to Digital" (R2D) circuit board was purchased to make the comparison to the existing estimation. My work related to the R2D board has included the following: creating two connector cables (one to power the circuit and one to get readable output off the board), writing Simulink code to process the board's output, and building a dSpace panel to control and monitor the circuit. The next step in the process will be to perform tests to compare the estimated rotor position and speed from the sensorless algorithm to the actual rotor and speed from the resolver signal.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Fehrmann, Elizabeth A. (Rochester Inst. of Tech. NY, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Research Symposium II
Subject Category
Electronics and Electrical Engineering
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20050186580Analytic PrimaryResearch Symposium II