# If DC current is chopped on it's way to a load, what happens to the EM?

In summary: So, don't chop it. In summary, the conversation discusses the consequences of chopping a DC power supply to a load before the pulse reaches it. It is explained that the power will continue to travel forward, but will dissipate energy due to heat in the wires and resistances. Additionally, the conversation touches on the concept of scalar electricity in motion and the role of momentum in understanding electricity. It is also mentioned that DC does not produce electromagnetic fields in the same way as AC does. Finally, it is advised not to chop DC as it can result in a wide frequency spectrum and potential complications with various circuits.
I am curious what happens if you draw DC power to a load, but as it approaches the load you chop the load connection say with a SSR or switch.

The power will be traveling near the speed of light, following the wire toward the load. When the load is chopped by a switch just before the pulse reaches it, will the power just keep traveling forward, according to Newton's Law of momentum (third law?). Or what comes of it?

I am trying to understand EM in various configurations. I think DC EM may be described as scalar electricity in motion, so cannot be detected by normal means (when measured on it's own). I am attempting to detect it as pulses by various effects on systems. I won't go into it anymore than that for brevity, but thought I'd add some context.

Do you mean you switch on the power supply , then before the pulse reaches the load you open another switch just before the load?

In this case, assume the supply has a voltage V. When you switch on, a pulse of amplitude V (a step function) travels from the switch in both directions. The wires constitute a transmission line having a certain characteristic impedance (or surge impedance). The pulse travels in one direction towards the load and in the other direction via the supply to the load. The two pulses are opposite polarity but both end up traveling towards the load on the two wires.

The second switch is open, so the energy on one wire ("live" maybe) is reflected back to the first switch, The energy on the second wire ("ground" maybe) passes through the load and arrives at the opposite side of the second switch where it is also reflected. The energy then travels back to the first switch, and so on for ever. But each time the wave travels over the path it dissipates energy as heat, in the wire resistance, the source resistance and th load resistance, so it soon dies out and we settle to zero voltage on the wires.

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cnh1995
The power will be traveling near the speed of light, following the wire toward the load. When the load is chopped by a switch just before the pulse reaches it, will the power just keep traveling forward, according to Newton's Law of momentum (third law?).
Electron drift speed is very slow. The EM travels near light speed, but not the electrons. Momentum plays an insignificant role. So do not attempt to understand electricity as an analogy to bowling balls in a pipe.

DaveE, cnh1995 and davenn
The power will be traveling near the speed of light, following the wire toward the load. When the load is chopped by a switch just before the pulse reaches it, will the power just keep traveling forward, according to Newton's Law of momentum (third law?). Or what comes of it?

no it doesnt
There is a pulse of an electric field that travels along the outside of the conductor towards the load
I am trying to understand EM in various configurations. I think DC EM may be described as scalar electricity in motion, so cannot be detected by normal means (when measured on it's own).

DC doesn't produce EM as you suggest it, that requires AC

anorlunda said:
Electron drift speed is very slow. The EM travels near light speed, but not the electrons. Momentum plays an insignificant role. So do not attempt to understand electricity as an analogy to bowling balls in a pipe.

indeed

cnh1995
Welcome to PF.
You need to better specify the situation. Where and what do you mean by "chop".
Drag and drop a circuit diagram onto your next post.

A magnetic field will be present if a DC current is flowing. The magnetic field will change when you stop the current by breaking the circuit.
If you are interested in the EM fields of electric power distribution, then you need to study transmission lines.

what happens if you draw DC power to a load, but as it approaches the load you chop
One does not simply chop DC

When you 'chop' it'll make it AC, with a quite wide frequency spectrum. The better your 'chop' is the wider that spectrum, actually. It might result in headaches with antennas, RLC circuits, unbalanced feed lines and such.

DaveE
Been there, done that: Wiring acts as antenna to 'spam' area at chopping-frequency and umpteen multiples...

This is why 'brush' motors must be very carefully suppressed and shielded...

Nik_2213 said:
This is why 'brush' motors must be very carefully suppressed and shielded...
... and why the brush covers more than one commutator bar at the time.

Nik_2213

## 1. What is DC current?

DC current, or direct current, is a type of electric current that flows in one direction only. It is commonly used in electronic devices such as batteries and power supplies.

## 2. What does it mean to "chop" DC current?

Chopping DC current refers to the process of rapidly switching the current on and off using a semiconductor device, such as a transistor. This results in a pulsed current instead of a continuous flow.

## 3. How does chopping DC current affect the electromagnetic (EM) field?

Chopping DC current causes fluctuations in the EM field, as the pulsing current generates electromagnetic waves that radiate outwards. The strength and frequency of these waves depend on the rate at which the current is chopped.

## 4. What happens to the EM field when chopped DC current reaches a load?

The EM field will interact with the load and induce a voltage or current, depending on the type of load. This is how electricity is delivered to electronic devices.

## 5. Are there any potential consequences of chopping DC current?

Yes, chopping DC current can produce electromagnetic interference (EMI) which can disrupt the functioning of nearby electronic devices. It can also cause voltage spikes and damage sensitive components if not properly controlled.

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