The global site of the UK's leading magazine for automation, motion engineering and power transmission
13 July, 2024

Twitter link

Pumping slower for longer can be easy energy win

01 April, 2024

When pumps are slowed down, they can benefit from efficiency improvements. In the water industry, pumping slower for longer can unlock significant energy savings, as Clayton Mead, ABB’s water industry manager for the UK, explains.

The amount of energy a pump needs to do its job can be reduced to a simple equation: power multiplied by time. A 100kW pump operating for one hour equates to 100kWh of energy. However, because pumps are generally cube law applications, the relationship between the pump speed and the energy required means that significant savings can be achieved with only small changes in pump control philosophy.

At a time when the UK water industry is under immense pressure to cut costs and improve service, this can represent an easy win that, in the right application, not only improves efficiency and reduces energy costs, but also extends pump operating lifetimes.
Consider a pump which is being used to empty a 100,000 litre tank. Using our simplified equation above, if we were to pump at 1,000 litres per hour, it will take 100 hours to empty the whole tank. A 100kW pump running for 100 hours would use 10,000kWh which, at 20 pence per kWh, equates to £2,000 in energy costs.
However, if we use a drive to reduce the speed of the pump motor to 80%, this would provide a pumping rate of 800 litres per hour, and the tank will now take 125 hours to empty. The same 100kW pump will now use only 50kW for 125 hours. This will use 6,250kWh which, at 20p/kWh, equates to an energy cost of £1,250 – a 35% saving. It must be acknowledged that not all applications offer the latitude to make changes such as this but, conversely, not all processes necessarily have to be carried out at specific times and could, for instance, be run at night when demand is lower.
This is just one example of how many small changes, when put together, can add up to big energy savings. Many pump applications in the water industry are installed and then not revisited, sometimes for years. Optimising the control philosophy by small amounts will often make no noticeable difference to the effectiveness or outcome of a process, but when you add them up, can save substantial amounts of energy. 
To find out more about the ABB Energy and Optimisation Appraisal for the water industry, search for “ABB Water Challenge“. 


  • To view a digital copy of the latest issue of Drives & Controls, click here.

    To visit the digital library of past issues, click here

    To subscribe to the magazine, click here



"Do you think that robots create or destroy jobs?"



Most Read Articles