Thermal Evaluation of High Voltage Hermetic Motors Experiencing Recurrent Insulation Failures
A high voltage hermetic compressor motor design developed for chiller applications has shown recurrent insulation failures in certain stator end-turn regions. Initial investigations found discoloration of failed coil insulation and suggested that the stator coils over heated during operation at rated load. Thermal modeling was conducted to develop an understanding of the causes of the unacceptably high motor failure rate so that corrective actions could be taken for future motor designs. This paper presents thermal modeling efforts for predicting steady-state temperature distributions within the stator coil in the end-turn region under full-load electrical heating and a refrigerant cooling environment. Insulation thermal conductivity and coil surface convection heat transfer coefficient were identified as two critical heat transfer parameters which dictate the effectiveness of coil heat dissipation. Thermal analysis results have been correlated with measured temperature dependent insulation thermal conductivities and stator coil surface temperatures measured in motor cooling tests. The results of thermal evaluation indicate that the premature motor failures are likely caused by excessive conductor heating due to high operating current density in a non-uniform coolant distribution.