Pumps account for 10% of the world’s energy consumption. They’re everywhere and an integral part of our lives and industries.
With the population on the rise and infrastructure needed to support that, the number of pumps in the world is increasing. This presents a challenge for the rotating equipment industry to provide more pumps, while reducing energy consumption. Even the smallest improvement to efficiency could make an important difference on a global scale.
Agreements like the Paris Accord and the ErP Directive mean that energy consumption is an issue that companies and governments are working to improve constantly.
Another motivator to make pumps more energy efficient is money. Approximately 90% of the cost of a pump through its lifetime comes from the amount of energy it consumes. Making pumps more efficient could halve a pump-owner/manager’s energy costs which, in several energy intensive industries, is a stratospheric saving.
Each pump has a ‘best efficiency point’ (BEP) or sweet-spot – a combination of head and flow rate where it will deliver its best performance for energy efficiency and service life.
However, getting a pump to operate close to its BEP isn’t easy.
In many systems, friction losses can gradually increase due to corrosion or sediment build-up in pipes. This means that the pressure needed to push fluid through the system increases over the life of the pump, which can cause problems.
Flow and pressure requirements can vary significantly too. That’s especially true in water and wastewater systems that need to respond to changes in demand and are impacted by events like stormwater surges.
As a recruiter immersed in the pump and rotating equipment market, I’ve come across a number of interesting energy saving strategies that companies around the world are adopting.
In systems where flow requirements change significantly, many companies’ are sharing the load via a number or smaller pumps that can be operated independently. This means the number of pumps running at any time will be set to match the overall flow requirements, with each individual pump operating near its BEP.
Pumps with variable frequency drives (VFDs) also improve efficiency. They enable the operator to adjust the running speed of each pump and adjust the output to near-optimal efficiency.
Companies like KSB, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of centrifugal pumps, also use impeller trimming to improve energy efficiency. They claim that this makes an average improvement of 10%.
This achieved by reducing the diameter of a standard impeller and reducing the output of the pump. This shifts the BEP so that the optimum performance of the pump precisely matches the requirements of the application.
KSB take energy consumption seriously and have a dedicated initiative set up, the Fluid Future initiative. This is aimed at helping pump users optimise the performance and minimise the full life cycle cost of pumps and the systems they help drive.
In addition to the initiative, they have innovative pump and valve technology. This includes a state-of-the-art hydraulic system that is designed using a computer-based simulation which provides insights into flow processes. This helps achieve low energy consumption, high hydraulic efficiency and a high output per size.
Maximum savings during operation are achieved by KSB pump sets comprising the world’s most efficient magnet-less IE4 pump motor KSB SuPremE and a PumpDrive frequency inverter. The latter adjusts the flow rate automatically and continuously to the actual demand of the system, reducing costs by up to 60%.
They also offer highly efficient valves that can be tailored to specific requirements including the advanced globe, butterfly and swing check valves. Energy savings of up to 50% can be made by all three.
KSB’s plethora of varied size and capacity options also make it easier for their customers to find a pump that has a BEP close to the required duty point.
Another major player, Grundfos, are also working at the forefront of energy efficiency.
Very few heating systems are properly balanced, resulting in inefficient operation. Grundfos’ ALPHA3 and ALPHA Reader make it possible to do a flow-based hydronic balancing of any heating system – even underfloor heating. This can reduce energy bills by 20%.
The Danish company also provide energy efficient motors. Running on as little as 4W, the ALPHA series their most efficient choice of domestic circulator. It offers the lowest EEI (energy efficiency index) of any comparable pump on the market, using 87% less energy than your average older circulator. This can reduce energy bills by a further 10%.
The MAGNA3 is one of the most efficient pumps in its class – way below the EuP requirements – and is a well-respected all-purpose circulator.
Both MAGNA3 and the ALPHA series features AUTOADAPT. The AUTOADAPT enables the pump to adjust to changing demands through analysis of consumption patterns. This way it only runs when it needs to.
A test conducted by German technology consultant TÜV SÜD concluded that ALPHA2 and ALPHA3 were the most energy efficient circulators on the market, when compared to six other brands from the world’s most well-known pump manufacturers.
CP Pumps are also innovators in this area. They use seal-less magnetic drive pumps, as opposed to those with mechanical seals. It’s safer, more efficient and can lead to significant savings over the life cycle of a pump due to the reduction in mechanical parts.
There’s also the Japanese pump company, Torishima, who were awarded the Energy Conservation Prize by the Japanese Government for their efforts to increase product efficiency with their ‘Eco-Pump’.
Other major players like Xylem are also addressing this issue. However, the fact remains that pumps are still responsible for a significant proportion of the world’s energy consumption. So, while today’s pumps are making important energy savings, there’s still work to be done if we are to see an impact on global energy usage.
Like Oliver concluded two years ago, it’s an exciting time to be involved in pump and rotating equipment market and I can’t wait to see what unfolds in the coming years to address this issue.
As a recruiter specialising in this space, I’d be really interested to hear what you think of this article and about what your company is doing to be energy efficient. Please also get in touch if you would like to take advantage of my recruitment services at Will.Brockbank@industrial-cm.com.