Steel-maker set to save £68,000 on pumping energy costs with ABB drives05 October 2012

Tata Steel in Rotherham is set to save £68,000 a year on energy costs associated with pumping, following installation of five ABB motor drives.

The specialist steel plant contracted ABB Drives Alliance partner Halcyon Drives to supply, install and commission three 90kW and two 75kW drives to control critical pumping applications, following data logging trials.

Ben Holroyde, a member of the engineering team responsible for implementing energy saving, says that Tata Steel identified its flume flush pumps and filter feed pumps as prime candidates for energy efficiency.

During production, hot steel billets are sliced by a gas cutter, generating scrap that flakes off the billet, so the three flume flush pumps flow water across the billet to reclaim the scrap. Holroyde explains that two 90kW flume flush pumps run continuously, and that scrap is filtered out of the water and then returned to the process via a clear well, with two 75kW filter feed pumps maintaining the level.

All these pumps were driven by motors running direct-on-line, with no speed control and only simple logic to determine how many needed to operate. Further, because flushing water was not controlled against demand, much of it was sprayed beyond the cutting area, resulting in wastage.

Tata Steel's team of engineers established not only that variable-speed drives would provide significant savings, but also that only one of the filter feed pumps should be needed for the recirculating water system – meaning that one could be removed for a spare.

A Halcyon Drives hire drive was installed for the trials, with current first logged on one of the filter feed pumps, under the original flow control, which involved a valve to maintain the clear well level at 60%. Results showed that, with two pumps running, annual energy consumed was over 355,000 kWh, at a cost of more than £46,000 per annum.

The variable-speed drive was then set up on one of the pumps, with control linked to a level transducer. Results confirmed that a single pump was adequate, and that energy consumption fell to just over 131,000kWh at a cost of £8,500 – resulting in savings of £37,600 per annum.

For the flume flush pumps, a similar exercise showed that energy usage would fall from 565,000kWh to 323,000kWh, with costs falling from £73,500 to £42,000 – a saving of over £31,000.

Brian Tinham

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