Is your electrical equipment working smoothly?

Jon Lawson

Is your equipment working harmoniously? Steve Hughes explains

Many of us are familiar with the rhyme about eating ‘an apple a day to keep the doctor away’, but how many design engineers or OEMs know how to keep poor power quality at bay?
No matter the industry, pretty much every business operates based on electronic systems, equipment and devices. A loss or disruption of power, whether it’s to an automation system, manufacturing process or an entire industrial plant, is not only frustrating but costly.

REO UK’s experience has found that one of the common causes for poor power quality, harmonic distortion, is frequently overlooked as the culprit for a plant’s power quality issue. However, harmonics left unfiltered can lead to parts such as transformers malfunctioning, reduce the lifecycle of a piece of equipment and even contribute to voltage distortions.

Harmonics can create additional losses that result in unnecessary consumption of energy. This is because the amount of power required by the system increases due to a reduction in power quality.

So, now we know the effects of harmonics, how exactly are they caused? Harmonic currents are primarily injected into the electricity distribution network by non-linear loads, such as variable speed drives (VSD) or uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). As many harmonic currents are produced by the end user’s equipment, it’s important that these harmonics are controlled at the end user’s terminal.

Integrating extras

To counteract unwanted harmonics, engineers should integrate filters, mains or DC chokes into their electrical systems. The REOwave passive, for example, is designed as a filter unit that includes a REO mains filter and a REO harmonics filter, which can supress several nonlinear loads from a singular device.

The function of the mains filters in the device is the pre-suppression of the mains and to provide shielding against external harmonics. It filters the harmonics caused by the B6 circuit breaker, effects a preliminary suppression of network interference and screens the application from extraneous harmonics.

In addition to protection against harmonics, the REOwave passive also offers considerable cost savings. This is because, by mitigating the number and frequency of harmonics, the stress on components is significantly reduced. This decreases the chances of equipment overheating and reduces nuisance tripping of circuit breakers and fuses.

Power quality is pivotal to the efficiency of equipment, and businesses should not shy away from evaluating their equipment and taking the necessary steps to prevent harmful power disturbances.

Although governments across the globe are working to find fast and innovative ways of reducing emissions to cut costs, there are several existing technologies available to businesses that will not only help plant managers to reduce their carbon footprint, but also assist in driving down costs.

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