In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Equipment Design for Harmonic Current Mitigation 2. Harmonic Current Cancellation 3. Harmonic Filters.

Equipment Design:

The use of electronic power devices is steadily increasing. It is estimated that more than 70% of the loading of a facility by year 2010 will be due to nonlinear loads, thus demand is increasing for product manufacturers to produce devices that generate lower distortion. The importance of equipment design in minimizing harmonic current production has taken on greater importance, as reflected by technological improvements in fluorescent lamp ballasts, adjustable speed drives, battery chargers, and uninterruptible power source (UPS) units.

Computers and similar data-processing devices contain switching mode power supplies that generate a substantial amount of harmonic currents. Designing power supplies for electronic equipment adds considerably to the cost of the units and can also make the equipment heavier. At this time, when computer prices are extremely competitive, attempts to engineer power supplies that draw low harmonic currents are not a priority.

Adjustable speed drive (ASD) technology is evolving steadily, with greater emphasis being placed on a reduction in harmonic currents. Older generation ASDs using current source inverter (CSI) and voltage source inverter (VSI) technologies produced considerable harmonic frequency currents.


The significant harmonic frequency currents generated in power conversion equipment can be stated as:

n = k q ± 1

where, n is the significant harmonic frequency, k is any positive integer (1, 2, 3, etc.), and q is the pulse number of the power conversion equipment which is the number of power pulses that are in one complete sequence of power conversion. For example, a three-phase full wave bridge rectifier has six power pulses and therefore has a pulse number of 6.

With six-pulse-power conversion equipment, the following significant harmonics may be generated:


For k = 1, n = (1 x 6) ± 1 = 5th and 7th harmonics.

For k = 2, n = (2 x 6) ± 1 = 11th and 13th harmonics.

With six-pulse-power conversion equipment, harmonics below the 5th harmonic are insignificant. Also, as the harmonic number increases, the individual harmonic distortions become lower due to increasing impedance presented to higher frequency components by the power system inductive reactance. So, typically, for six-pulse-power conversion equipment, the 5th harmonic current would be the highest, the 7th would be lower than the 5th, the 11th would be lower than the 7th, and so on, as- We can deduce that, when using 12-pulse-power conversion equipment, harmonics below the 11th harmonic can be made insignificant. The total harmonic distortion is also considerably reduced. Twelve-pulse-power conversion equipment costs more than six-pulse-power equipment. Where harmonic currents are the primary concern, 24-pulse-power conversion equipment may be considered.

Harmonic Current Cancellation:

Transformer connections employing phase shift are sometimes used to effect cancellation of harmonic currents in a power system. Triplen harmonic (3rd, 9th, 15th, etc.) currents are a set of currents that can be effectively trapped using a special transformer configuration called the zig-zag connection. In power systems, triplen harmonics add in the neutral circuit, as these currents are in phase. Using a zig-zag connection, the triplens can be effectively kept away from the source. Figure 4.18 illustrates’ how this is accomplished.

The transformer phase-shifting principle is also used to achieve cancellation of the 5th and the 7th harmonic currents. Using a ∆ – ∆ and a ∆ – Y transformer to supply harmonic producing loads in parallel as shown in Fig. 4.19, the 5th and the 7th harmonics are cancelled at the point of common connection.

This is due to the 30° phase shift between the two transformer connections. As the result of this, the source does not see any significant amount of the 5th and 7th harmonics. If the nonlinear loads supplied by the two transformers are identical, then maximum harmonic current cancellation takes place; otherwise, some 5th and 7th harmonic currents would still be present. Other phase-shifting methods may be used to cancel higher harmonics if they are found to be a problem. Some transformer manufacturers offer multiple phase-shifting connections in a single package which saves cost and space compared to using individual transformers.

Harmonic Filters:

Nonlinear loads produce harmonic currents that can travel to other locations in the power system and eventually back to the source. Harmonic currents can produce a variety of effects that are harmful to the power system. Harmonic currents are a result of the characteristics of particular loads. As long as we choose to employ those loads, we must deal with the reality that harmonic currents will exist to a degree dependent upon the loads. One means of ensuring that harmonic currents produced by a nonlinear current source will not unduly interfere with the rest of the power system is to filter out the harmonics. Application of harmonic filters helps to accomplish this. Harmonic filters are broadly classified into passive and active filters.


Passive filters, as the name implies, use passive components such as resistors, inductors, and capacitors. A combination of passive components is tuned to the harmonic frequency that is to be filtered. Figure 4.20 is a typical series-tuned filter. Here the values of the inductor and the capacitor are chosen to present a low impedance to the harmonic frequency that is to be filtered out. Due to the lower impedance of the filter in comparison to the impedance of the source, the harmonic frequency current will circulate between the load and the filter.

This keeps the harmonic current of the desired frequency away from the source and other loads in the power system. If other harmonic frequencies are to be filtered out, additional tuned filters are applied in parallel. Applications such as arc furnaces require multiple harmonic filters, as they generate large quantities of harmonic currents at several frequencies.

Applying harmonic filters requires careful consideration. Series-tuned filters appear to be of low impedance to harmonic currents but they also form a parallel resonance circuit with the source impedance. In some instances, a situation can be created that is worse than the condition being corrected. It is imperative that computer simulations of the entire power system be performed prior to applying harmonic filters.

As a first step in the computer simulation, the power system is modelled to indicate the locations of the harmonic sources, then hypothetical harmonic filters are placed in the model and the response of the power system to the filter is examined. If unacceptable results are obtained, the location and values of the filter parameters are changed until the results are satisfactory. When applying harmonic filters, the units are almost never tuned to the exact harmonic frequency. For example, the 5th harmonic frequency may be designed for resonance at the 4.7th harmonic frequency.

By not creating a resonance circuit at precisely the 5th harmonic frequency, we can minimize the possibility of the filter resonating with other loads or the source, thus forming a parallel resonance circuit at the 5th harmonic. The 4.7th harmonic filter would still be effective in filtering out the 5th harmonic currents. This is evident from the series-tuned frequency vs. impedance curve shown in Fig. 4.20. Sometimes, tuned filters are configured to provide power factor correction for a facility as well as harmonic current filtering.

In such cases the filter would be designed to carry the resonant harmonic frequency current and also the normal frequency current at the fundamental frequency. In either case, a power system harmonic study is paramount to ensure that no ill effects would be produced by the application of the power factor correction/filter circuit. Active filters use active conditioning to compensate for harmonic currents in a power system.

Figure 4.21 shows an active filter applied in a harmonic environment. The filter samples the distorted current and, using power electronic switching devices, draws a current from the source of such magnitude, frequency composition, and phase shift to cancel the harmonics in the load. The result is that the current drawn from the source is free of harmonics.

An advantage of active filters over passive filters is that the active filters can respond to changing load and harmonic conditions, whereas passive filters are fixed in their harmonic response. Application of passive filters requires careful analysis. Active filters have no serious ill effects associated with them. However, active filters are expensive and not suited for application in small facilities.