Rawcliffe, Gordon Hindle

Rawcliffe, Gordon Hindle
SUBJECT AREA: Electricity
b. 2 June 1910 Sheffield, England
d. 3 September 1979 Bristol, England
English scientist and inventor of the multi-speed induction motor using the pole amplitude modulation principle.
After graduating from Keble College, Oxford, Rawcliffe joined the Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company in 1932 as a college apprentice, and later became a design engineer. This was followed by a period as a lecturer at Liverpool University, where he was able to extend his knowledge of the principles underlying the design and operation of electrical machines. In 1941 he became Head of the Electrical Engineering Department at the Robert Gordon Technical College, Aberdeen, and Lecturer in charge of Electrical Engineering at Aberdeen University. In 1944 Rawcliffe was appointed to the Chair of Electrical Engineering at the University of Bristol, where he remained until his retirement in 1975. The reputation of his department was enhanced by the colleagues he recruited.
After 1954 he began research into polyphase windings, the basis of alternating-current machinery, and published papers concerned with the dual problems of frequency changing and pole changing. The result of this research was the discovery in 1957 of a technique for making squirrel-cage induction motors run at more than one speed. By reversing current in one part of the winding, the pole distribution and number were changed, and with it the speed of rotation.
Rawcliffe's name became synonymous with pole amplitude modulation, or PAM, the name given to this technique. Described by Rawcliffe as a new philosophy of windings, the technique led to a series of research papers, patents and licensing agreements in addition to consultancies to advise on application problems. Commercial exploitation of the new idea throughout Western Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States followed. In total he contributed twentyfive papers to the Proceedings of the Institution of Electrical Engineers and some sixty British patent applications were filed.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
FRS 1972. Royal Society S.G.Brown Medal 1978.
21 August 1958, British patent no. 900,600 (pole amplitude modulation).
1958, with R.F.Burbridge and W.Fong, "Induction motor speed changing by pole amplitude modulation", Proceedings of the Institution of Electrical Engineers 105 (Part A): 411–19 (the first description of pole amplitude modulation).
Further Reading
Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 1981, Vol. XXVII, London, pp. 479–503 (includes lists of Rawcliffe's patents and principal papers published).

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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