Over the past few years, power electronics technology has reduced VFD costs and size and increased performance through developments in semiconductor switching systems, drive topologies, simulation and control technologies, and hardware and software operation. Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) are a green energy efficiency device that compares the amount of work or load on the engine to the amount of energy it takes to power the amount of work. It reduces the consumption of surplus energy.
What is the variable frequency drive (VFD)?
Variable-frequency drive (VFD) is a type of adjustable-speed drive used in electro-mechanical drive systems that helps to control AC motor speed and torque by varying engine input and voltage. VFDs are used for applications ranging from small devices to massive compressors. Currently, 25% of the world’s electrical energy is used by electric motors in commercial applications. Systems that use VFDs can be more effective than those that use fluid flow control throttling, such as pump systems or ventilators. However, the global market share for all VFD applications is comparatively limited.
The advent of advanced microprocessors allowed the VFD to act as an extremely flexible system that not only controls the speed of the engine but also protects against overcurrent during ramp-up and ramp-down conditions. Newer VFDs also have braking methods, power boost during ramp-up, and a range of controls during ramp-down. The greatest advantage the VFD offers is that it will ensure that the engine does not draw excess current as it starts so that the total demand factor for the whole plant can be managed to keep the energy bill as small as possible. This feature alone may provide reimbursement above the VFD price for less than one year after purchase.
Variable frequency drives (VFD) industry applications:
Variable frequency drive for the food and beverages industry
Variable frequency drives (VFDs) have effectively replaced other conventional methods for operating the equipment used in the food and beverage industry. In addition to reliable process control and dramatically increased energy efficiency drives also help machine manufacturers achieve the necessary safety requirements and reduce system complexity.
The reliability of modern drives has been used as an integral part of the safety program. Its dedicated safety features, they are an increasingly critical factor in helping the food and beverage industry to strengthen its safety record and at the same time maximize its competitiveness and profitability.
Variable frequency drive in the pharmaceutical industry
Electric motors in the pharmaceutical industry use significant amounts of electricity; they are estimated to account for around two-thirds of all production. Just a small air conditioning device, costing a few hundred pounds, can be expected to use several hundreds of thousands of pounds of energy in its useful life. Variable frequency drives can help to allow substantial energy savings by regulating the speed of the motor.
Energy prices are low, but energy efficiency and sustainability are crucial for many sectors of business. Maintaining a stable supply of energy allows both businesses and people to spend less-and this is just what variable frequency drives will help process industries do. Clearly stated, variable frequency drives can be used as a form of protection against potential energy price rises. They minimize the bill in proportion to its actual scale and boost the long-term economic plan of the energy sector by raising the probability that it will be able to help the Government achieve its energy-reduction targets.
Variable frequency drive for oil and gas industry
Large compressors and pumps are the foundation of the oil and gas industry. Compressor devices are used in applications such as gas pipeline booster stations, refrigeration trains at liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants, and a range of applications in petrochemical plants and refineries.
VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) has made it possible to use electric motors up to 100MW. Since then, large VFD electric motors have started to substitute gas and steam generators for massive compressors. Despite the power, speed, and fuel advantages of turbines as prime movers, the trend towards electric motors and VFDs is accelerating, and this paper explores some of the reasons why the transition makes economic sense.
Key trends that are driving the industry’s growth and innovations:
In order to reduce commissioning time, VFDs are designed and built for individual industries. Out-of-the-box VFDs are configured with industry-specific terminology, default parameters are modified, new functions are developed and unneeded features are removed. VFDs are also equipped with industry-specific setup wizards to direct the installer through the usual steps required to operate the drive.
In a typical compressor setup, the compressor is operated by a motor directly connected to the power supply. Irrespective of the compressor requirements, the engine operates at a constant speed, consuming a lot of energy. The motor rotation can be modified according to the requirements of the compressor by using a variable frequency drive. Therefore, depending on the output quality, the input may be modified, resulting in energy savings.
The open-type and NEMA 1 VFD enclosures are still the staples of VFDs produced in the Americas. They are usually mounted on a panel, a wall device, or connected to another enclosure with a higher environmental protection value. Nevertheless, NEMA 12 (IP54) and NEMA 4/4X (IP66) VFDs are rapidly gaining popularity, especially in ventilator and pump applications where application controls are now based on VFD software rather than external logic.
They are smaller and weigh less than the VFDs mounted in a separate enclosure. They also reduce the total number of components by minimizing cable, terminal blocks, and additional cooling. Engineered drive packages with branch circuit safety, power conditioning, and control input/output (I/O) systems still have a firm position in the industry, but the enclosures will continue to be more advanced and cost-efficient.
The current harmonic requirements have become the focus of the Pacific Coast States and have slowly moved eastward. Mitigating current harmonics reduces maintenance costs from the point of view of the owner of the equipment; the cost savings come from the power utility’s side. Reducing current harmonics has become so critical for utilities that many give incentives to help reduce higher VFD costs. This is perhaps the area of greatest improvement in the VFD industry over the last five years.
Conventional low-harmonic topologies, such as 18-pulse rectifiers and harmonic filters, are being replaced by a wide range of active switching topologies that are more powerful, use less space, and are easier to mount. VFD manufacturers are improving their products and introducing a multitude of features, but the primary aim of VFD is to save the owner money. The markets will continue to be dominated by VFDs that tend to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO).
Taking everything into account
The variable frequency drive market is expected to witness a boom in its growth due to progressive applications across various industries. Currently, the VFD is possibly the most common form of output or load for the control device. When applications become more complicated, the VFD can control the speed of the engine, the direction of the shaft of the engine, the torque of the engine, and all other motor parameters that can be identified.
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Newer VFDs have a range of parameters that can be controlled by a number programmed in or downloaded from another microprocessor-based device, such as a programmable controller (PLC). These VFDs are also available in smaller sizes that are cost-effective and take up less room. Nevertheless, the emerging coronavirus outbreak is shifting demand trends for major semiconductor end markets. Notwithstanding continuing quarantine, shelter orders, and other strict measures, COVID-19 has continued to spread.
The semiconductor industry, which has traditionally been a significant source of high-tech employment, is among the many sectors that have had to change their production plans and operations as COVID-19 changes demand new semiconductor end applications. Nonetheless, the Global Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) Market is projected to emerge at a skyrocketing CAGR of 6% during the coming years.