Perspectives: Energy Saver

Make the Most of Adjustable Speed Drives

Understanding the system curve is crucial to avoid problems

By Riyaz Papar, Energy Columnist
May 5, 2015

Adjustable speed drives are well-known but often misunderstood because little attention is paid to the system as a whole. Note I used the terminology “adjustable speed drives” (ASDs) and not “variable frequency drives” (VFDs). Most engineers associate speed changes with an inverter-based VFD. That’s true in most applications, but in the process industries we have a significant amount of steam demand that allows us to deploy back-pressure, extraction and condensing steam turbines. These turbines are inherently ASDs and can accommodate shaft-horsepower and process-flow-rate demand very efficiently. I’ll cover steam turbine drives specifically in a future column, but for now, just realize that we have several options to adjust operating speed of rotating equipment.

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