When you talk about the advantages variable frequency drives (VFD) offer, the first thing to consider is the cost savings related to speed control. One way to reduce motor speed is to use belts, sheaves, or gearboxes, but a VFD cuts the actual motor speed, which then reduces the number of amps drawn by the motor. If the amps are reduced then the motor isn’t using as much power which saves energy costs.
When an electric motor is first powered up, that in-rush of power draws a great deal of electricity, too. A VFD (and soft starter) can be programmed to ramp the motor speed up slowly, reducing the chance of creating mechanical issues that may lead to problems down the road.[Tweet “Motors consume 64% of the energy used by industry in the US. Worldwide, according to ABB, motors account for 28%.”]
The average load of a motor and the number of hours it runs determines how much energy savings a VFD can offer. In most environments, an electric motor doesn’t have to run at 100% capacity 100% of the time. A VFD can be programmed to vary the capacity of a motor during periods of time when the motor does not have to run full speed.
A VFD to Save the World
Maybe VFDs aren’t a world-saving device, but the results of their efforts have been measured by ABB. Motors consume 64% of the energy used by industry in the US. Worldwide, according to ABB, motors account for 28%.
Motor drives, which act exactly like an accelerator pedal that speeds up or slows down a vehicle in exact proportion to driving conditions, are the unsung heroes of the energy world. Because they regulate motors so precisely, and because motors are the major consumers of energy produced for industry, the installed base of drives save energy and keep CO2 emissions out of our Earth’s atmosphere in dramatic proportions.
ABB just tallied what the company’s drives saved the globe in 2014, for example. In energy consumption, the installed base saved 445 TWh (terawatt-hours), which is equivalent to what 110 million households use in energy, when each home consumes, on average, 4,000 kWh annually – an average for 2005, the year for which the latest statistics are available.
If that amount of energy would have been generated by fossil-fuel-powered electricity plants, these drives reduced CO2 emissions by 370 million tons. The visual of how ABB’s installed base of drives impacts the world looks like this:
Yaskawa’s Green VFD: U1000
Recently, Yaskawa released what they call their “Greenest Drive Ever: U1000.” A VFD that ‘enhances performance beyond that of a conventional AC drive.’
Enjoy extremely low harmonic distortion and regeneration in a space-saving design, completely without the need for additional components. Unlike conventional drives, Yaskawa’s Matrix technology employs a system of 9 bi-directional switches that are arranged in a matrix to convert a three-phase AC input voltage directly into a three-phase AC output voltage. This eliminates the need for a rectifying circuit and DC smoothing circuit that are used in traditional AC drive “inverters.” The result is a compact drive with full regenerative capability and reduced harmonic distortion.
Full Power Regeneration: Traditional drives utilize regenerative braking resistors to dissipate energy as heat, reducing energy efficiency. The U1000 Industrial Matrix drive allows you to return regenerative energy directly back to the power supply, increasing energy efficiency and saving money.
Power Quality Improvement: When a conventional AC drive converts power, the input current becomes distorted, resulting in reduced power quality. Matrix technology reduces total harmonic distortion levels to 5%, without the need for reactors and filters. The result is a smoother current waveform that reduces stress on the system power supply and infrastructure. Additionally, reduced distortion improves power factor and thus, reduces energy costs.
U1000 Matrix VFD Features
The U1000 Matrix VFD joins the Yaskawa family of industrial drives:
- Fully Regenerative
- Low Input Distortion Across a Wide Load and Speed Range
- IEEE-519 Compliant (<5% THD)
- Eco-Mode to Achieve Near Across-the-Line THD
- Near Unity Power Factor
- Integrated Input Fusing Provides 100kA SCCR
- Compact Design
The U1000 Industrial Matrix drive is available in the following voltage and power ranges
- 240V Class: 10 – 100 HP Normal Duty (7.5 – 75HP Heavy Duty)
- 480V Class: 7.5 – 350 HP Normal Duty (5 – 300HP Heavy Duty)