Energy saving solution for extract fans

22 February 2011

Variable speed drive systems supplied by drive technology company, Ralspeed, have enabled Whitford, a supplier of fluoropolymer coatings, to reduce the carbon footprint of the extract fan installation at its manufacturing plant by more than 65%. Additional benefits include lower running costs, extended equipment life, and reduced noise levels.

Whitford makes extensive use of air extraction systems to ensure the comfort of its employees. Until recently, the fans were driven by motors with ordinary direct-on-line starters that provided no speed control.

However, in a bid to improve the energy efficiency of its operations and to minimise environmental impact, engineers at Whitford took advantage of Ralspeed’s energy appraisal service.

His highlighted the fact that each of the extract plant’s 7.5kW fan motors was running at full speed for 59 hours per week, 50 weeks of the year, consuming 18,800kWh of electricity per year at a cost of £1,540.

Ralspeed suggested fitting the fans with variable speed drives that would allow them to run at a speed optimally matched to the requirements of the manufacturing process. Calculations showed that this would allow the annual consumption for each motor to be cut to around 6,500 kWh and the energy cost to £528. The calculations also showed that the carbon footprint of each fan would be reduced from 8.09 tonnes of CO2 per year to just 2.78 tonnes.

To date, Ralspeed has converted five of the fans to variable speed operation, and conversion of the site’s remaining fans is planned for the near future. In each case, the conversion has involved fitting a control panel designed and built by Ralspeed, which incorporates a Vacon NXL AC variable speed drive. These drives were chosen on the basis of their consistent performance, proven reliability and value for money.

Once the new drive systems had been installed, it quickly became apparent that they would not only reduce energy usage and costs, but that they would also provide other important benefits. For example, smooth controlled starting and stopping of the fans, as well as the lower running speed for much of the time, is minimising wear and tear on the drive belts and bearings, which will extend the life of the equipment and reduce maintenance requirements.

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