Sponsored text: Keep it cool: efficient and cost-effective refrigeration with motors and drives

Anna Boedeker, sales manager Segment and Project sales, IEC Low Voltage Motors, ABB

The global food and beverage sector consumes approximately 30 percent of the world’s energy. It is also responsible for 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. As consumers and governments call on all industries to limit their emissions, the food and beverage sector must find ways to operate as efficiently as possible.

In many facilities, refrigeration and cooling consumes a significant amount of power – in some cases, up to 60 percent of the total energy budget. Much of this energy goes to powering motors, which drive cooling compressors, pumps, evaporators, and condensers.

While the load varies, many motors used in refrigeration applications run at a constant speed. This wastes energy and results in unnecessary emissions. It also contributes to high operating costs, especially as the price of electricity continues to rise.

Fortunately, the latest generation of high-efficiency motor and drive technology enables facilities to significantly reduce energy use, among a range of other benefits.

Efficient motor technology

In many countries, energy efficiency classes are set out by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The least efficient motors are classified as IE1, while more efficient models are IE4 class. With each increase in IE number, such as from IE2 to IE3, a motor achieves 20 percent lower energy losses.

In Europe from July 2023, the minimum efficiency class will be IE4 for motors rated between 75 and 200kW. However, old motors are permitted to continue operating. This means that many facilities are still using older, less efficient IE1 and IE2 motors. These old motors consume significantly more power than newer models, resulting in greater emissions. Synchronous reluctance motors (SynRM) offer an even higher level of efficiency – IE5. Upgrading from an IE3 motor to an IE5 cuts energy losses by 40 percent. Continuing to use older, less efficient motors is a false economy – the power savings achieved by modern SynRM motors quickly pay for the cost of upgrading, often in just months. In other words, the financial and environmental case for upgrading only becomes stronger as energy prices rise.

As well as being significantly more energy efficient, there are several additional advantages to SynRM technology for refrigeration applications. Compared with other types of motors, SynRM motors achieve lower winding temperatures and bearing temperatures, reducing the amount of heat transferred into the refrigeration system. This reduces the risk of failure and extends the equipment’s lifespan. SynRM motors are also quieter than other types of motors.

Greater efficiency and control with variable speed

Additional energy savings are possible when motors are paired with variable speed drives (VSDs). Without a VSD, a motor runs at full speed regardless of the load. Operators then control the output by throttling flow downstream, such as by using valves. This is like keeping one foot on the accelerator pedal of a car and controlling its speed using the brakes.

With a drive, an operator can precisely adjust a motor’s speed to the exact requirements of the process. Any time it is not operating at full speed, it is saving power. Pairing a motor with a drive delivers energy savings of approximately 25 percent.

Since drives provide a high level of control over the motor’s speed, they also enable greater control over a refrigeration or cooling system’s performance. With VSDs, the system can adjust to variations in the external temperature caused by the weather, season, or other factors. This ensures that the products remain at exactly the specified temperature, improving quality and reducing waste.

ABB’s ACS580 drive includes features designed specifically for cooling and refrigeration applications in the food and beverage sector. The cooling compressor control feature enables easy setup, editing, and continual control of a system’s temperature range.

Cutting the cost of keeping cool

Campbell’s Australia replaced a single refrigeration compressor motor with an ABB SynRM IE5 motor-drive package. The change reduced energy costs by 14 percent, eliminated 131 tons of CO2 emissions, and saved the operator over $10,000 USD per year.

Food and beverage businesses have a major opportunity to improve the performance of their cooling and refrigeration systems while also cutting energy costs and associated operating expenses – a clear win-win. Learn more about SynRM motor-drive packages at global.abb/topic/synrm-drive-package.

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