The following points highlight the three main energy efficient devices which are used in electrical system in industries. The devices are: 1. Maximum Demand Controllers 2. Soft Starter 3. Variable Speed Drives.
Device # 1. Maximum Demand Controllers:
High-tension (HT) consumers have to pay a maximum demand charge in addition to the usual charge for the number of units consumed. This charge is usually based on the highest amount of power used during some period (say 30 minutes) during the metering month. The maximum demand charge often represents a large proportion of the total bill and may be based on only one isolated 30 minute episode of high power use.
Considerable savings can be realized by monitoring power use and turning off or reducting non-essential loads during periods of high power use.
Maximum demand controller (see Fig. 6.24) is a device designed to meet the need of industries conscious of the value of load management. Alarm is sounded when demand approaches a preset value. If corrective action is not taken, the controller switches off non-essential loads in a logical sequence.
This sequence is predetermined by the user and is programmed jointly by the user and the supplier of the device. The plant equipment selected for the load management are stopped and restarted as per the desired load profile. Demand control scheme is implemented by using suitable control contactors. Audio and visual annunciations could also be used.
Device # 2. Soft Starter:
When starting, AC induction motor develops more torque than is required at full speed. This stress is transferred to the mechanical transmission system resulting in excessive wear and premature failure of chains, belts/gears, mechanical seals, etc. Additionally, rapid acceleration also has a massive impact on electricity supply charges with high inrush currents drawing +600% of the normal run current.
The use of star delta only provides a partial solution to the problem. Should the motor slow down during the transition period, the high peaks can be repeated and can even exceed direct on line current.
Soft starter (see Fig. 6.25) provides a reliable and economical solution to these problems by delivering a controlled release of power to the motor, thereby providing smooth, stepless acceleration and deceleration. Motor life will be extended as damage to windings and bearings is reduced.
Soft start and soft stop is built into 3 phase units, providing controlled starting and stopping with a selection of ramp times and current limit settings to suit all applications (see Fig. 6.26).
Advantages of Soft Start:
i. Less mechanical stress.
ii. Improved power factor.
iii. Lower maximum demand.
iv. Less mechanical maintenance.
Device # 3. Variable Speed Drives:
a. Speed Control of Induction Motors:
Induction motor is the workhorse of the industry. It is cheap rugged and provides high power to weight ratio. On account of high cost-implications and limitations of DC system, induction motors are preferred for variable speed application, the speed of which can be varied by changing the supply frequency.
The speed can also be varied through a number of other means, including, varying the input voltage, and varying the resistance of the rotor circuit, using multispeed windings, using Scherbins or Kramer drives, using mechanical means such as gears and pulleys and eddy-current or fluid coupling or by using rotary or static voltage and frequency converters.
b. Variable Frequency Drive:
The VFD operates on a simple principle. The rotational speed of an AC induction motor depends on the number of poles in that stator and the frequency of the applied AC power. Although the number of poles in an induction motor cannot be altered easily, variable speed can be achieved through a variation in frequency. The VFD rectifies standard 50 cycle AC line power to DC, then synthesizes the DC to a variable frequency AC output.
Motors connected to VFD provide variable speed mechanical output with high efficiency. These devices are capable of up to a 9:1 speed reduction ratio (11 percent of full speed) and a 3:1 speed increase (300 percent of full speed).
In recent years, the technology of AC variable frequency drives (VFD) has evolved into highly sophisticated digital microprocessor control, along with high switching frequency IGBTs (Insulated Gate Bi Polar Transistors) power devices.
This has led to significantly advanced capabilities from the ease of programmability to expanded diagnostics. The two most significant benefits from the evolution in technology have been that of cost and reliability, in addition to the significant reduction in physical size.
c. Variable Torque Vs Constant Torque:
Variable speed drives and the loads that are applied to, can generally be divided into two groups: constant torque and variable torque. The energy savings potential of variable torque applications is much greater than that of constant torque applications.
Constant torque loads include vibrating conveyors, punch presses, rock crushers, machine tools and other applications where the drive follows a constant V/Hz ratio. Variable torque loads include centrifugal pumps and fans, which make up the majority of HVAC applications.
Reason for the use of variable torque loads:
In variable torque applications, the torque required varies with the square of the speed and the horsepower required varies with the cube of the speed, resulting in a large reduction of horsepower for even a small reduction in speed. The motor will consume only 25% as much energy at 50% speed than it will at 100% speed. This is referred to as the Affinity Laws, which define the relationships between speed, flow, torque and horsepower.
The following laws illustrates these relationships:
i. Flow is proportional to speed.
ii. Heads is proportional to (speed).
iii. Torque is proportional to (speed).
iv. Power is proportional to (speed).
Tighter Process Control with Variable Speed Drives:
No other AC motor control method compares to variable speed drives when it comes to accurate process control. Full-voltage (across the line) starters can only run the motor at full speed and soft starts and reduced voltage soft starters can only gradually ramp the motor up to full speed and back down to shut-down.
Variable speed drives, on the other hand can be programed to run the motor at a precise speed, to stop at a precise position or to apply a specific amount of torque.
In fact, modern AC variable speed drives are very close to the DC drive in terms of fast torque response and speed accuracy. However, AC motors are much more reliable and affordable than DC motors, making them far more prevalent.
Most drives used in the field utilize Volts/Hertz type control, which means they provide open-loop operation. These drives are unable to retrieve feedback from the process, but are sufficient for the majority of variable speed drive applications.
Many open-loop variable speed drives do offer slip compensation though, which enables the drive to measure its output current and estimate the difference in actual speed and the set point (the programed input value). The drive will then automatically adjust itself towards the set point based on this estimation.
Most variable torque drives have Proportional Integral Differential (PID) capability for fan and pump applications, which allows the drive to hold the set point based on actual feedback from the process, rather than relying on estimation.
A transducer or transmitter is used to detect process variables such as pressure levels, liquid flow rate, air flow rate or liquid level. Then the signal is sent to a PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers), which communicates the feedback from the process to the drive. The variable speed drive uses this continual feedback to adjust itself to hold the set point.
High levels of accuracy for other applications can also be achieved through drives that offer closed-loop operation. Closed-loop operation can be accomplished with either a field-oriented vector drive or a sensor less vector drive.
The field-oriented vector drive obtains process feedback from an encoder, which measures and transmits to the drive the speed and/or rate of the process, such as a conveyor, machine tool or extruder. The drive then adjusts itself accordingly to sustain the programed speed, rate, torque, and/or position.
Extended Equipment Life and Reduced Maintenance:
Single-speed starting methods start motors abruptly, subjecting the motor to a high starting torque and to current surges that are up to 10 times the full-load current. Variable speed drives, on the other hand, gradually ramp the motor up to operating speed to lessen mechanical and electrical stress, reducing maintenance and repair costs and extending the life of the motor and the driven equipment.
Soft starts or reduced-voltage soft starters (RVSS) are also able to step a motor up gradually, but drives can be programed to ramp up the motor much more gradually and smoothly and can operate the motor at less than full speed to decrease wear and tear.
Variable speed drives can also run a motor in specialized patterns to further minimize mechanical and electrical stress. For example, an S-curve pattern can be applied to a conveyor application for smoother control, which reduces the backlash that can occur when a conveyor is accelerating or decelerating.
Typical full-load efficiencies are 95% and higher. High power units are still more efficient. The efficiency of VSDs generally decreases with speed but since the torque requirement also decreases with speed for many VSD applications, the absolute loss is often not very significant.
The power factor of a VSD drops drastically with speed, but at low power requirement the absolute kVAr requirement is low, so the loss is also generally not significant. In a suitable operating environment, frequency controllers are relatively reliable and need little maintenance. A disadvantage of static converters is the generation of harmonics in the supply, which reduces motor efficiency and reduces motor output – in some cases it may necessitate using a motor with a higher rating.
d. Eddy Current Drives:
This method employees an eddy-current clutch to vary the output speed. The clutch consists of a primary member coupled to the shaft of the motor and a freely revolving secondary member coupled to the load shaft. The secondary member is separately excited using a DC field winding. The motor starts with the load at rest and a DC excitation is provided to the secondary member, which induces eddy-currents in the primary member.
The interaction of the fluxes produced by the two currents gives rise to a torque at the load shaft. By varying the DC excitation the output speed can be varied to match the load requirements. The major disadvantage of this system is relatively poor efficiency particularly at low speeds, (see Fig. 6.27).
e. Slip Power Recovery Systems:
Slip power recovery is a more efficient alternative speed control mechanism for use with slip-ring motors. In essence, a slip power recovery system varies the rotor voltage to control speed, but instead of dissipating power through resistors, the excess power is collected from the slip rings and returned as mechanical power to the shaft or as electrical power back to the supply line.
Because of the relatively sophisticated equipment needed, slip power recovery tends to be economical only in relatively high power applications and where the motor speed range is 1:5 or less.
f. Fluid Coupling:
Fluid coupling is one way of applying varying speeds to the driven equipment, without changing the speed of the motor.
Fluid couplings (see Fig. 6.28) work on the hydrodynamic principle. Inside every fluid coupling are two basic elements – the impeller and the runner and together they constitute the working circuit. One can imagine the impeller as a centrifugal pump and the runner as a turbine.
The impeller and the rotor are bowl shaped and have large number of radial vanes. They are suitably enclosed in a casing, facing each other with an air gap. The impeller is connected to the prime mover while the rotor has a shaft bolted to it. This shaft is further connected to the driven equipment through a suitable arrangement.
Thin mineral oil of low viscosity and good-lubricating qualities is filled in the fluid coupling from the filling plug provided on its body. A fusible plug is provided on the fluid coupling which blows off and drains out oil from the coupling in case of sustained overloading.
There is no mechanical inter-connection between the impeller and the rotor and the power is transmitted by virtue of the fluid filled in the coupling. When the impeller is rotated by the prime mover, the fluid flows out radially and then axially under the action of centrifugal force. It then crosses the air gap to the runner and is directed towards the bowl axis and back to the impeller.
To enable the fluid to flow from impeller to rotor it is essential that there is difference in head between the two and thus it is essential that there is difference in RPM known as slip between the two. Slip is an important and inherent characteristic of a fluid coupling resulting in several desired advantages.
As the slip increases, more and more fluid can be transferred. However, when the rotor is at a standstill, maximum fluid is transmitted from impeller to rotor and maximum torque is transmitted from the coupling. This maximum torque is the limiting torque. The fluid coupling also acts as a torque limiter.
Fluid coupling has a centrifugal characteristic during starting thus enabling no-load startup of prime mover, which is of great importance. The slipping characteristic of fluid coupling provides a wide range of choice of power transmission characteristics.
By varying the quantity of oil filled in the fluid coupling, the normal torque transmitting capacity can be varied. The maximum torque or limiting torque of the fluid coupling can also be set to a pre-determined safe value by adjusting the oil filling. The fluid coupling has the same characteristics in both directions of rotation.