In a freewheeling diode RL circuit, the purpose of the diode is to provide a path for the inductive load current to flow when the power supply voltage is removed or reversed. This circuit configuration is commonly used in applications with inductive loads, such as solenoids, motors, and transformers.
When an inductive load is energized, it stores energy in its magnetic field. If the power supply suddenly switches off or reverses the voltage polarity, the inductive load tries to maintain the current flow due to its inherent property of opposing changes in current (inductance). This creates a back electromotive force (EMF) that can result in a voltage spike that can damage the circuit components.
The freewheeling diode, also known as a flyback diode or snubber diode, is connected in parallel with the inductive load in the circuit. When the power supply voltage is removed or reversed, the diode provides a low-resistance path for the inductive load current to continue flowing safely, allowing the energy stored in the inductor to dissipate gradually. This helps to prevent voltage spikes and protects other components in the circuit from potential damage.
In summary, the primary purpose of the freewheeling diode in an RL circuit is to provide a safe path for the inductive load current when the power supply is turned off or its voltage polarity is reversed, preventing harmful voltage spikes and ensuring smooth operation of the circuit.