Variable speed drive control software protects against gas supply interruptions04 October 2016

MPTC  is installed in the MEGADRIVE-LCI MPTC is installed in the MEGADRIVE-LCI

ABB has released the first variable-speed drive (VSD) control software that uses Model Predictive Control to regulate the drive’s torque.

The MPTC software was initially developed to ensure the operation of compressor stations during voltage disruptions, caused by lightning strikes, winter storms or ice build-up on power lines.

The stations use large compressors, up to 50 megawatts (MW), to compress natural gas for travel through hundreds of miles of pipeline. Historically gas turbines powered the compressors. Today, more efficient large synchronous electric motors are used. The motors are controlled by VSDs, such as ABB’s largest drive, the MEGADRIVE-LCI.

When power supply disruptions happen, protection systems quickly shut down the compressors. This halts the supply of gas. Restarting compressors lasts from a few hours to days. The resulting interruption in the gas supply can mean financial losses that range into the hundreds of millions of USD per year for large facilities.

Installed in the drive, the MPTC uses a control algorithm based on Model Predictive Control that ensures the operation of the drive during power and grid disturbances in order to provide the compressor with partial torque, preventing the compressor from going into surge.

The is the first where MPTC is used to control a commercial multi-megawatt drive system with much faster dynamic behaviour, where the underlying optimisation problems need to be solved in less than a millisecond.

Live testing of the software was done over the winter at two Statoil gas facilities in Norway. It was installed on drives used to power two 42.2 MW compressors at a gas processing plant in Kollsnes, and three 7.5 MW booster compressors in Kårstø. The control software successfully protected the compressor operation during voltage dips.

Mark Venables

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