Perm scientists created a dual-mode starter-generator for electric motors of unmanned aircraft systems

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Scientists from Perm National Research Polytechnic University (PNIPU) have created a dual-mode starter-generator for unmanned aircraft systems. It can start the engine and generate electricity to recharge batteries and power electrical systems. This was reported in the press service of PNIPU.

The starter-generator is developed on the basis of a permanent magnet synchronous motor, which has almost completely replaced the previously used asynchronous motors, as it has a higher coefficient of efficiency – it is more powerful and less affected by voltage surges.

Usually, motor starting and power generation are performed by two different devices. The starter-generator developed at PNIPU combines these two functions in one design and provides stable voltage for both the engine and the entire electrical system, which allows to increase productivity and reduces the risk of accidents associated with equipment failure.

The starter-generator design consists of the main elements: motor driver, switch and stabilizer. When the engine is started, the driver is utilized, with all electricity coming from the battery. Then, when the switch disconnects the battery and the driver, the generator starts, converting the mechanical energy of the rotating engine into electrical energy. By combining these two modes in one device, high energy efficiency and compactness are achieved.

Perm Polytechnic explained that the developers’ attention was focused on two features of the starter-generator. The first one is that the stabilizer is able to operate in a wide range of input voltages and currents, which is important to prevent the breakdown of the engine and other electronic components of the drone due to unstable voltage. The second feature is the proposed method of controlling the starter generator without the use of sensors using a fuzzy regulator.

“Instead of using motor sensors, it was decided to apply fuzzy controller. This makes the system more reliable. The device provides high accuracy even under varying load conditions and motor parameters. Also, this approach reduces the cost of installation and maintenance of sensors, increases the reliability and energy efficiency of the system,” said the PNIPU.

The study was published in the journal Electrical Engineering, No. 11, 2023. The development was carried out under the Priority 2030 strategic academic leadership program. The design documentation and software for the starter-generator developed by the scientists of Perm Polytechnic is planned to be implemented in 2024 in the automatic engine control system at the ODK-Star enterprise.