Voith VECO-Drive: Efficient variable speed drive for pumps, compressors

Crailsheim, Germany-based Voith Turbo has introduced the first member of a new product family in speed control for compressors and pumps: the VECO-Drive. It is an electric superimposing gear and is inspired by the established principle of the Voith Vorecon with more than 600 installations. The VECO-Drive combines a mechanical planetary gear with frequency-controlled servo motors.

The electrical superimposing gear is the most efficient way to make speed variable and servo motors are used to drive a planetary gear, says Voith Turbo. Since they only need a small part of rated power, an over-all component efficiency of more than 97% is reached. This saves energy and reduces operating costs.

The VECO-Drive is installed between a constant speed motor and a variable speed compressor or pump. Voith combines the reliability of mechanical gears with the high productivity of low-voltage VFDs. Since additional power is supplied to the drive train, a smaller main motor can be used. This saves capital expenditures. Moreover, the servo motor can be used as a starter to protect the electric grid from high in-rush currents.

For the functional demonstration of the VECO-Drive, a prototype system was built and tested in Crailsheim, Germany, in 2016. Voith engineers designed the system for compressor and pump applications with a maximum output speed of 15,000 rpm, maximum output power of 15 MW and a speed adjustment range from 50 to 100%. Compared to a typical full-scale medium voltage VFD train with a step-up gearbox, the measured system efficiency of a VECO-Drive is about 2% higher over the whole speed range. Thus, the VECO-Drive system reduces annual energy consumption by more than 2000 MWh compared to a comparable VFD system. With a typical energy cost of €50/MWh, these energy savings result in cost reductions of more than €100,000/ y.

The modular VECO-Drive offers specifications for different applications, classes of explosion protection and speeds. Advanced functions like the integrated PLC-based output controller, user interfaces, condition monitoring and simplified maintenance are built in and remote access and diagnosis are available on demand.

Voith Turbo, www.voith.com

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