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Variable Frequency Drives

By Chemical Engineering |

Electric alternating current (a.c.) motors power all types of equipment in the chemical process industries (CPI), including pumps, fans, blowers, compressors and other types of process equipment. Electric motor systems offer opportunities for reductions in power consumption because while some applications require a constant motor speed, half of all electric-motor applications have a speed demand that varies with different conditions. In those situations, it is desirable to employ a variable frequency drive (VFD), also known as an adjustable speed drive, to achieve flexible process speed and torque, and thereby increase system efficiency. This one-page reference provides information on VFD operation and potential benefits. VFD principles A VFD is a type of motor controller that drives a.c. electric motors by varying the frequency and voltage supplied to the electric motor. Electrical frequency (Hertz) is directly related to the motor’s speed (revolutions per minute; rpm), so higher frequencies translate into higher motor rpm. VFDs convert an incoming electrical supply with fixed frequency and voltage into a variable frequency and variable voltage output for the electric motor (Figure 1). This allows motor speed to be varied from…
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