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An update on causes of, solutions for shaft currents

  • April 2004
  • Number of views: 1657
  • Article rating: 4.0

Chuck Yung 
EASA Technical Support Specialist 

While shaft currents are not a new problem (papers on the subject date back prior to 1930), what is “new” is our understanding of how to solve the problem. Shaft currents have been described as shaft voltages, circulat­ing currents, bearing currents and circulating voltages. This article will refer to the phenomenon as “shaft currents” because it is the current that causes the damage.

When a conductor is passed through a magnetic field, voltage is induced into the conductor. 

It is not the voltage that damages a bearing, but rather the current. (Fuses fail because the current is too high, not the voltage.) We don’t have a practical way to measure the current through the shaft, so we measure the magnitude of the voltage instead. 

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