The IEEE Pulp, Paper and Forest Industries Technical Conference is a yearly event that brings together professionals who work with electrical systems in the pulp, paper and forest industries. At the 2016 conference, held in Austin, TX, Dr. Emmanuel Agamloh, senior motors and drives consultant for Advanced Energy, and Scott Peele and Joe Grappe, of Duke Energy, won the First Place Conference Technical Paper award. Their paper, “Response of Motor Thermal Overload Relays and Phase Monitors to Power Quality Events,” discussed the effect of power quality on customer end-use equipment fitted with motor protective devices.
The multi-year project, sponsored and funded by Duke Energy, tested commercial voltage monitors and thermal overload relays to see how they responded to different power quality events. When working correctly, these products claim to protect motors from voltage unbalances and increasing motor currents (that can lead to overheating). Voltage faults and overheating can damage motors, so it is important that these tools function properly. Monitors and relays were tested by staff at the motors and drives lab at Advanced Energy.
The results of the study were quite dramatic. The monitors and relays often tripped erroneously, either shutting down motors when no problems existed or not going off when an issue arose. These outcomes are troublesome given that the products are widely used commercially. Utility providers such as Duke Energy cannot guarantee flawless voltage balance and advise their customers to use motor protective devices, such as the ones tested. However, the testing performed in the lab revealed that the devices may not function as expected. It is therefore essential that future models are better made, regulated and tested. Customers who use these devices must also be made aware of their flaws.
The next step in the project was to use the findings to educate customers and industries. With additional support from Duke Energy, the investigators put together demonstrations and trainings to share their results. Both Duke Energy and Advanced Energy now offer motor trainings and presentations to make customers aware of these potential issues. The demonstrations are portable and can be taken on the road to reach broader audiences. Furthermore, the researchers have been asked to present their findings at other technical forums, such as EPRI, IEEE and Duke Engineers’ internal seminars.
Winning this paper award is another example of the high regard people have for the work done at Advanced Energy with support from Duke Energy. Congratulations to everyone involved in the project!