How to Define Saturable Core Parameters

The magnetic elements in PSIM (windings, leakage paths, air gaps, and magnetic cores) provide a powerful way of modeling magnetic devices. The objective of this tutorial is to show how to define the saturable core element.

Parameter Definition of the Saturable Core Element

The saturable core element is under the menu “Elements >>  Power >> Magnetic Elements”. It has the following parameters:

The simulated B‐H curve of the saturable core depends on the combined effect of all the parameters above. The diagram below shows how the parameters are related to the B‐H curve.

The inductance factor AL mainly affects the slope of the  B‐H curve in the linear region. A larger value of AL  will result in a steeper slope.

The resistance R  determines the width of the hysteresis loop. The larger the resistance, the wider the hysteresis loop would be.

The coefficient phi_sat  is roughly equal to the core flux at the deep saturation. It can be calculated as the flux density B at the deep saturation multiplied by the core cross-section area Ac.

The coefficients K1 and Kexp1 determine when the B‐H curve starts to saturate (the first knee point), and how sharp the transition of the curve is. A good guess of K1  is the ratio of the flux density at this point versus the flux density at the deep saturation. For example, if the flux density at this point is 0.245, and the flux density at the deep saturation is 0.35 T, the ratio will be 0.7. The initial guess of K1 will then be 0.7.

The coefficient Kexp1 determines how sharp the transition of the curve is around this point. The larger the value of Kexp1, the sharper the transition would be.  A normal range of Kexp1 is from 10 for low permeability ferrite to 200 for metglas.

The coefficients K2  and  Kexp2 are associated with the second knee point in the saturation region and are used mainly to better fit the curve in the saturation region. A good guess of K2 is, again, the ratio of the flux density at this point versus the flux density at the deep saturation. The coefficients K2 and Kexp2 are used on rare occasions such as for ferro-resonant regulators. They are normally set as K2 > 2 and Kexp2 > 20 to keep them from affecting the B‐H curve.

To illustrate the effect of the coefficients K2 and Kexp2, two  B‐H curves without and with the effect of K2 and Kexp2 are shown below. The flux density on the  Y‐axis is normalized so that the saturation flux density is 1.

The figure on the left shows the effect of only K1 and Kexp1; and the figure on the right shows the effect of both K1, Kexp1, and K2 and Kexp2.

For the B‐H curve on the left without the effect of K2 and Kexp2, notice how the curve continues to increase beyond the saturation flux density of 1. In comparison, for the B‐H curve on the right with the effect of K2 and Kexp2,  the curve in the saturation region is flatter than the previous case.



The example below is used to illustrate how to obtain the core parameters from the manufacturer datasheet.

The desired inductor and the design information is as follows:

Inductance: 4.2uH

Number of Turns: 6

Core Material: 3F3 ferrite

Core Data: EDF‐25

Core effective cross section area Ac = 58 mm2

Core effective length Length = 57 mm

Approximated are gap inductance factor = 0.1167uH (or gap length lg=0.62mm)


Maximum current: 25 A

Peak‐to‐peak current ripple: 4A

Switching frequency: 200 kHz

The first step is to obtain the B‐H curve of the core material from manufacturers. In this example, the B‐H curve from Ferroxcube ( for the 3F3  ferrite material is shown below.

The next step is to create a test circuit in PSIM to simulate the core and match the simulated B‐H curve with the manufacturer’s B‐H  curve in Fig. 3. The circuit below is created to test and measure the B‐H curve of the saturable core element.

In the circuit, the values of the core parameters are from the inductor design. A square‐wave voltage source is used as the test source. The peak voltage and the dc offset of the source are adjusted so that the simulated B‐H curve gives the same range of the magnetizing force H as the datasheet. In this example, the range of H is from –250 to  250  A/m.  The source frequency is set to be the same as the operating frequency of 200 kHz.

The resistor Rin is used to provide damping so that the circuit can quickly reach the steady-state.

The extra node of the saturable core element gives the flux phi flowing through the core. By dividing the flux by the core cross-section area Ac, we have the flux density B.

By multiplying the current with the number of turns and then dividing by the core length, we have the magnetizing force H.

After the circuit is simulated, we first show the flux density  B in the Y-axis in SimView. Then go to Axis >> Choose X‐Axis variables, and choose H as the variable to plot the B‐H curve.



Determining the core coefficients is an iterative process. One would start with an initial guess. Then run the simulation, and compare the two B‐H curves. Then go back to changing the coefficients and run the simulation again. It may take many iterations to come up with a good match. A good initial guess of the coefficients will help speed up the process. The sections below describe how the initial values are set for this example.

From the EFD‐25 core datasheet, we have the core area of 58 mm2, the core length of 57 mm, and from the 3F3 ferrite datasheet,  we have the relative permeability μr of  4000 (at 100Co). Based on the information, we can calculate the core inductance factor as:

which gives a value of 5.1uH. This value is used as the initial value for AL. As it turns out, in order to better fit the B‐H curve, this value needs to be increased.  The final value of AL used is 8.5 uH.

The resistance R determines the width of the hysteresis loop. We started with an initial value of 1 mOhm but found the loop area to be too small. The resistance was eventually increased to 0.06 Ohm.

The coefficient phi_sat is relatively easy to determine. The flux density B at deep saturation is around 0.35 Tesla. The initial value for phi_sat was set to 0.35*Ac (where Ac is the core cross-section area). After some iterations, the final value of phi_sat was set at 0.38*Ac.

The B‐H curve from the datasheet shows no clear transition from the linear region to the saturation region. It means that the coefficient Kexp1 should be relatively small. By examining the B‐H curve, we started with the initial guess as K1 = 0.3; Kexp1 = 10.; K2  = 2; and Kexp2 = 20.

In this example, adjusting K1 and Kexp1 alone will not result in a good fit, and K2 and Kexp2 also need to be adjusted to obtain a  better fit. After  numerous iterations and trial‐and‐error, the set of parameters  below was obtained as: K1 = 0.82; Kexp1 = 6.; K2 = 0.95; and  Kexp2 = 40.

The simulated B‐H curve from PSIM is shown  as below:

A saturable inductor should consist of at least one saturable core and one winding coil. This example also includes an air gap.

By connecting the air gap element in series with the core and winding, we have the model for the inductor. The circuit below shows the 4.2 uH inductor model in a buck converter.

The result of the circuit using the modeled inductor is found to be close to the result using the ideal inductor.

B‐H Curve Tool

PSIM provides a convenient way to define the parameters of a saturable core element. This tool is under the menu “Utilities >> B‐H Curve”. The dialog of this tool is shown below.

When all the required parameters are entered and the Calculate button is clicked, PSIM will calculate the B‐H curve and plot the curve on the right-hand side diagram. One can then compare this curve with the curve from the manufacturer’s datasheet, and readjust the parameters accordingly.