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ABB, CERN identify 17.4% energy-saving opportunity in cooling & ventilation motors

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ABB, CERN identify 17.4% energy-saving opportunity in cooling & ventilation motors

ABB and CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, have identified significant energy-saving potential through a strategic research partnership focused on the cooling and ventilation system at one of the world’s leading laboratories for particle physics institute, located in Geneva, Switzerland. The study included energy efficiency audits which have helped to identify a savings potential of 17.4 percent across a fleet of 800 motors.

The research, conducted between 2022 and 2023, followed an agreement between ABB and CERN. This saw the partners developing a roadmap for reducing the energy consumption of the site’s cooling and ventilation system via data-driven energy efficiency audits. It has identified potential annual energy savings of up to 31 gigawatt-hours (GWh). If achieved, these savings could be enough to power more than 18,000 European households and could avoid four kilotonnes of CO2 emissions, the same as planting over 420,000 trees.

Energy efficiency audits work by evaluating the performance and efficiency of motors based on their operational data. Audits help large facilities like CERN to identify the most significant energy saving opportunities across whole fleets of motors. CERN and ABB experts assessed a wide variety of data from motors in various cooling and ventilation applications. They combined data from multiple sources, including digitally-connected motors, CERN’s SCASAsystem and data gathered directly from their pumps, piping, and instrumentation. The experts analyzed the efficiency of the whole system to provide insights to pinpoint the motors with the best business case for energy efficiency upgrades.

Erich Labuda, President of the Motion Services division at ABB said, “This research project represents another step in CERN’s energy efficiency journey. As an institution with a large installed base of motors, working with CERN is a great example of how we can support in making a big impact in improving energy efficiency as part of the transition to a low-carbon society.”

Giovanni Anelli, Head of the Knowledge Transfer group at CERN said, “We are very happy with the final result of this research project as we have exceeded our goal of identifying a 10-15 percent energy efficiency improvement.”

“Cooling and ventilation systems are a fantastic first place to look for energy efficiency upgrades,” Labuda elaborated. “This is because they are often overdesigned, being specified to operate at a maximum load way above the average. In fact, we found one pump motor at CERN with an energy-saving potential of 64 percent. It is also important to not just evaluate motor efficiency, but the system as a whole – including the fans, condensers and cooling towers. This holistic approach supports the improvement of CERN’s overall energy efficiency and reliability.”

CERN’s next step is to create a roadmap for the upgrade of the first motors to the solutions recommended as part of the energy efficiency audit: IE5-rated Synchronous Reluctance Motors (SynRM) operating with variable speed drives (VSDs). These motors will also be digitally connected, enabling condition monitoring solutions to accurately monitor their health and performance to ensure maximum uptime.

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