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Driving industry to make energy efficiencies

14 September 2012

Achieving operational energy efficiency is something of a holy grail for industry. While we all have a moral obligation to conserve scarce resources, there are also real financial gains for any company that pursues this goal.

The Motor Driven Systems (MDS) conference, which takes a detailed look at the engineering approach to energy conservation, is there to help. Richard Burke reports

In November last year five trade associations combined to inaugurate a conference dealing with the subject of motor driven systems, which, together with pumps, fans and compressors, are responsible for between 43 and 46 percent of the world’s electricity consumption, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The second Motor Driven Systems (MDS) conference will be staged on November 8 2012 at the St John’s Hotel, Solihull. Once again supported by the five trade bodies - BCAS, FETA, BPMA, BEAMA and GAMBICA –representing the compressed air, fans, pumps, motors, drives and controls product areas respectively. This year, they will be joined by the Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades (AEMT) and the Energy Institute.

The MDS Conference will examine not only current and forthcoming legislation, but will also focus on the deployment of products and systems that will reap significant financial savings for investors in these technologies. GAMBICA’s Steve Bramley addressed the inaugural conference:

“The MDS Conference combines two of our industry’s most talked about topics – economics and energy – to show business leaders how energy efficiency is not only a financial benefit but a key step in becoming competitive,” he says.

“With motors consuming most of the electricity used in industry and significant energy savings to be made using control and automation, efficiency may be one of the largest opportunities available for businesses to boost their bottom line. The MDS Conference will address this challenge and is essential whether you are a business leader, an energy manager, a machine builder, a consultant or an engineer.”

This year’s event will include presentations from some of the industry’s leading players, including WEG (see case study below), ebm-papst, ABB, Vacon Drives, Mattei Compressors, Schneider Electric, JTL Systems, Xylem and IMS Research. Many leading manufacturers already work closely with end-user companies to improve energy efficiencies.

Immediate savings
One of the MDS conference main sponsors is electric motor and inverter specialist, WEG. The company recently helped Engineering Steel Belgium (ESB) to achieve a €45,000 per annum saving on the operation of three cooling pumps located at one of its electric steel furnaces.

Three WEG W22 132 kW, IE2 high efficiency motors, controlled by WEG CFW-09 variable speed drives were installed, the equipment being supplied by WEG distributor, Leclercq Energy to system installer, ProcessAutomation. The complete energy saving package includes control panel with Profibus-DP networked PLC, drives and soft starters.

Steel making is an energy intensive process, where even small efficiency gains can result in substantial energy savings and major reductions in operating costs. One of the primary focuses of the company’s energy reduction programme is its electric UHP (85 MVA) arc furnaces. These are cooled in a closed circuit cooling system, which includes three large pumps driven by 132kW motors.

Aware that the total cost of owning a pump is 90% energy consumption, ESB decided to replace the existing standard motors with three of WEG’s new W22 high efficiency machines. Exceeding the energy performance requirements of the recently published IEC60034-30 energy efficiency standard, the W22 motors reduce losses by between 10 and 40 percent compared with typical motors.

Although W22 motors made a significant contribution on their own to reducing the energy consumption of the three pumps, further potential for saving energy was thwarted by the use of a contactor-only motor control system. This meant that the pumps were usually running at full speed, irrespective of demand.

ProcessAutomation conducted an audit of the operating hours of the pump system and, based on this, it calculated that the total annual cost for operating the pumps on the cooling system was €117,000 (based on an energy cost of €0.09/kWh. On the basis of this figure ProcessAutomation calculated that further significant energy saving could be achieved by the application of variable speed drives to the pump motors, in conjunction with a PLC-based process automation system.

The WEG CFW-09 132kW inverter drives selected for the motor control task are matched to the W22 motors, producing the optimum operating characteristics for high efficiency operation. A key feature in this respect is the CFW09’s self-tuning feature, which automatically matches the drive to the motor and load, relieving the user of the task of entering a motor map.

The benefits of the installation were immediately apparent. The total annual energy cost for operating the pump cooling system is now reduced to €72,000. The resulting annual savings of €45,000 - or 38.5 percent - for ESB are a major contribution both to the company’s bottom line and to the cost of the energy saving system itself, guaranteeing a fast return on investment.

The 2012 MDS Conference will be providing end users and other interested parties with many more examples of similar energy saving products, systems and applications.

Richard Burke is with conference organiser, Touchwave Media

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