Question: What is a variable frequency drive and how does it promote energy efficiency in industrial business?

Answer: A Variable Frequency Drive (VFD), sometimes referred to as a Variable Speed Drive (VSD), is a piece of equipment that regulates the speed and rotational force of an electric motor. By controlling the speed at which your applications operate, your business can save on energy costs and significantly reduce the amount of energy being consumed.

Regulating motor speed to meet load requirements

Many motors today are controlled by a valve that regulates airflow while the speed of the motor remains constant. More efficient in design, installing (or upgrading) to a VFD can save your industrial facility as much as 70% in energy consumption, while simultaneously improving product quality and lessening production costs.

Without regulation, motors often operate at full-speed regardless of equipment, or load, requirements. VFDs are used in order to lessen the frequency and voltage required to run a motor at a speed necessary to meet the needs of any given application.  Essentially, these handy devices allow you to match the speed of the motor-driven equipment to the load requirement. Given the fact that electric motor systems are responsible for more than 65% of the power consumed in industry today, using only the amount of energy needed to run various applications can have serious energy saving repercussions for your business.

What kind of motors can be regulated by VFDs? Those most common applications to be regulated by VFDs include fans, pumps (centrifugal, positive displacement or slurry), compressors, and mills. Industries that use VFDs to regulate motor speed on a regular basis include: power generation, metallurgy, oil and gas, mining, water and waste water, HVAC and cement plants.

Cutting down on energy consumption around the world

The use of VFDs is becoming a well-known practice for reducing energy consumption on a global scale. According to a report by Siemens Financial Services highlighted in Manufacturing Digital, the use of VSDs, or VFDs, could potentially save industry in the UK up to £2,512 million in energy costs and Germany upwards of £5,913 million. While these numbers are popping up across the pond, similar significant savings in cost and energy are waiting to be had by industry in Canada.

Read more about the advantages of installing a VFD, how they work, and how your business can save on energy consumption and costs by visiting the Office of Energy Efficiency at Natural Resources Canada.

Questions or comments about VFDs? Leave them below! We’d love to hear from you.

image credit: WEG NET