Perhaps the fastest-growing green industry in the UK in recent years has been anaerobic digestion (AD). At these facilities, biomass consisting of plant and animal waste—from farms, commercial food operations and other sources—is “digested” by naturally occurring micro-organisms. This process releases biogas, a source for heat and power, along with nutrient-rich material that can be used as fertilizer.
The number of AD plants in the country has soared from 100 in 2013 to more than 600 today, and a 2017 report noted that these plants power over one million UK homes. While they produce biofuels that can be used to generate electricity, these facilities also require a dependable and constant source of electrical power for their pumps and other machinery. The plants operate 24 hours a day and uninterrupted operations are critical.
ABB smart protection devices keep operations running
ABB is contributing to the reliability of these plants with smart devices that protect facilities with digital analytics and maintenance prediction capabilities. Recently, ABB was chosen to install a range of protection devices for a low-voltage network at an anaerobic digestion plant that was one of several owned and operated by an AD provider in the UK. The new equipment was installed and control panels were manufactured by I.C. Electrical Ltd., with Booker Hill Projects Ltd. PCS Consultants Ltd. served as the customer’s consultant on the electrical network design.
The facility’s existing network and infrastructure had sustained damage and plant extensions were needed, providing an opportunity to incorporate the latest devices via ABB AbilityTM Electrical Distribution Control System, which connects them to the cloud-based platform.
The low-voltage network restoration work extended from an 11 kV transformer to process control panels and remote I/O panels. To protect the network and to enable predictive maintenance (determining when maintenance was needed before a problem developed, thus reducing up to 10 percent of operational costs), ABB provided its Emax 2, Tmax and Tmax XT all-in-one circuit breakers equipped with Ekip trip units.
“Our customer wanted the ABB solution, along with the important feature of everything residing on ABB AbilityTM for the analysis of loads,” said Atif Saleri, Market Development Manager at ABB. “The new low-voltage network can now be securely managed, even remotely, with handheld devices. Moreover, the project was commissioned on time, just three months after the contract was awarded, a fantastic achievement against a challenging timescale.”
Emax 2 all-in-one system brings simplified installation and operation
One of the most valued technologies for the customer was the embedded automatic transfer switch (ATS) built into Emax 2 circuit breakers. The system employs ABB’s Ekip Connect 3 software and the compact Emax 2 breaker to offer intelligent protection integrated with an ATS into a single device for automatically switching to an alternative power source if the main source fails.
“The Emax 2’s embedded ATS function is a great space-saving feature, eliminating the need for a separate transfer switch,” said Rob Jones, Design Engineer, I.C. Electrical. “It was easier to install and commission than previous systems, and the predictive maintenance feature is a tool that our AD facility customer has never had before.”
The low-voltage network created for this facility is expected to set a pattern for the expansion and upgrading of AD facilities across the UK and around the world together with innovative Ekip ecosystem.