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Reducing energy consumption of pneumatic fans with artificial intelligence supported devices

12 February 202410 min reading

Dr. Nihat Çankaya
Necmettin Erbakan University
Department of Food Precessing



In this study, the artificial intelligence based Jetmaster Fan Control System was installed on 6 pieces of 110kW pneumatic fans in the Ova Flour factory, drawing a total power of 592kW, and the system performance was examined. As a result of the study, it was observed that the total power consumed decreased by 25% to 444kW, and the blockages in pneumatic pipes decreased significantly [1].

PNEUMATIC FAN

In mills, the transportation of the product is done by air. In these systems, called pneumatic conveying systems, pressure or vacuum (suction) can be preferred. The pneumatic fan system used in the mill grinding unit is the most common example for vacuum conveying systems. The vacuum needed here is obtained with a pneumatic fan. When powder needs to be transported over long distances, pressurized transport systems are mostly used. The compressed air needed here is obtained with a blower. Both systems are widely used in flour mills. Vacuum transportation consumes more energy than pressure transportation. If dust is not desired in the working environment, transportation should be done by vacuum. If the content of the transported material is harmful, vacuum transport must be used. Pressure transport is divided into two: dilute or dense phase systems. Dilute phase transport systems with small amounts of product in air is widely used to transport flour, semolina, and bran. Dense phase transport systems, where the product ratio is higher in the air product mixture, are not used in mills. These systems are preferred for transporting raw materials that cannot be transported at high speed, such as sugar. In the flour industry, needs up to 2.000 mmWG are met by using a fan, needs up to 10.000 mmWG are met by using a blower, and pressure needs at higher values are met by using a compressor. The main fans that take the product from the rollers in the mill and carry it to the cyclones on the top floor are called pneumatic fans. 

ENERGY CONSUMPTION OF PNEUMATIC FANS

Pneumatic fans are the equipment that consumes the most electricity in flour mills. The share of pneumatic fans in flour mill energy consumption is around 20%. This power consumed by a few pneumatic motors is quite high compared to hundreds of other motors. Pneumatic fans are generally designed and operated at a slightly higher capacity than required. Insufficient capacity in pneumatic fans is noticed immediately. When the capacity is insufficient, blockages occur in the pipes and tonnage losses occur. But, if there is present an excess capacity, it is not easy to understand the value of this excess. The presence of excessive consumption in a facility can be analyzed by considering sector averages. For this, it is necessary to look at the specific energy consumption value of the flour sector. The specific energy consumption value for the flour industry is the electrical energy spent to break one ton of dirty wheat. In the energy calculation, the electrical energy spent in all processes from the moment the wheat is dumped from the truck to the moment it is loaded back into the truck as flour is considered. If the facilities do not serve different sectors, administrative office usage and consumption of social facilities are also included in the consumption. The ideal specific energy consumption value for the flour industry should be below 60kWh/ton. Calculation of this value; It is made by dividing the electrical energy consumed in kWh on an annual or monthly basis by the value of broken dirty wheat in tons. A similar method can be used to analyze the energy consumption of pneumatic fans alone. For this purpose, the dirty wheat capacity broken per hour is calculated in tons. The power in kW drawn by the fans is divided by the amount of wheat in tons crushed in one hour. Generally, installed power values for pneumatic fans are chosen as 10.5kW/ton/h. The power consumed is expected to be below 8kW/ton/h for pneumatic fans. Consumption above this indicates unnecessary fan capacity or diagram problems.

REASONS WHY FANS CONSUME MORE ENERGY THAN NEEDED

Pneumatic fan capacities are selected at the diagram design stage. As in the design of all factories, some additional capacity is added when selecting fans. Capacity is also added due to calculation and engineering errors. Additional capacity is added due to concerns about the performance of fans and other equipment and insecurities in work and workmanship. Additional capacity is added to accommodate tonnage fluctuations. Temperature, humidity, wind speed, etc. Additional capacity is added to meet environmental requirements. As a result, the design will always be based on the worst and extreme conditions. In some facilities, production capacity is reduced below the planned capacity due to a bottleneck in any of the machines. In this case, even correctly selected capacities become excessive. As a result, the flow rate difference between the design and actual operating conditions results in excess consumption. However, here the concept of overconsumption reaches abnormal values due to the nature of the fan. Because the increase in the flow rate of the fans appears as the cubic of the energy consumption. To put it more clearly, for example, if a fan operates with a flow rate 20% above the need and we reduce this excess flow by reducing the speed of the fan, the energy consumed by the fan will be halved. However, this phenomenon only occurs in pressure generators such as fans. For example, if we reduce the capacity by 20% by reducing the speed of a conveyor screw, the decrease in energy consumption will not even be 20%. Fans should not operate with unnecessary tolerance. However, it should be noted that personnel like to work with excessive fan capacity. In some cases, pipe blockages are not related to pneumatics. For example, when the type of wheat changes and the rolls cannot be adjusted accordingly, the product piles up in the front or back. In this case, while some pipes are empty, the loads of some pipes increase excessively. In this case, pipes and screen passages become clogged. Operators cannot distinguish such problems and associate the situation with the pneumatic system. These events also lead to the demand for the pneumatic system to be operated at excessive capacity.

AVAILABLE SOLUTION METHODS

In order to reduce pneumatic fan energy consumption, which reaches high values for the reasons mentioned above, a solution for installing drivers on pneumatic fans is produced in the industry. Energy savings are attempted by manually adjusting the frequency of the installed drivers. However, this method causes great disappointment. With manual frequency adjustment, very low frequencies can be achieved while the system is working properly. However, at the first surge, the pipes become clogged. The frequency is then increased one step at a time. As a result, the frequency is increased back to 48-49Hz. Even if there is savings at these frequencies, the additional energy consumption caused by the driver is only covered. The pipe blockage experienced here can be explained as follows. In the pneumatic system, there is a required amount of air in kg for transport of each 1 kg of product. The product ground in the mill is always mass in kg and at a relatively constant value. However, the air produced by fans is volumetric and in m3. At sea level, 1m3 of air weight is about 1.2 kg. However, the air produced by the fans varies according to values such as ambient temperature, the amount of product entering the pipes, the relative humidity of the environment, the speed of the wind blowing from the roof, and the pollution rate of filter bags. Due to all these environmental conditions, the weight of 1m3 of air decreases to around 1.0 kg. In addition to all these, if sufficient air intake cannot be provided to the mills, the air density inside decreases further and a vacuum is formed. In this case, the machines lose performance as if they were operating at an altitude of 8.000 m. Air density can decrease towards 0.9 kg. In this case, air heavy enough to carry 1 kg of product cannot be produced. In this case, the blockage happens in pipes at the slightest change in production. For this reason, the fan speed is set to the highest value that can support the product in the worst-case scenario.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE BASED JETMASTER FAN CONTROL SYSTEM

A new generation fan control system, which solves this problem mentioned above, which is difficult to solve under normal conditions, with the support of artificial intelligence and automatically adjusts the driver parameters instead of manually adjusting them, has started to be used in large-scale mills in Turkey. This device, developed by Jetmaster Technology (www.jetmaster.com.tr ) exclusively for the purpose of pneumatic fan control, works successfully in large facilities such as flour mills of Ova, Alaybeyi, Ozmen and Okyay. The working principle of the device is to control the driver to run the fan speed at the lowest possible speed, provided that there is no blockage in the pipes. In this way, the driver speed is automatically adjusted according to capacity changes or changes in environmental conditions. Thus, clogging problems in pneumatic pipes are largely eliminated. Energy savings are achieved by ensuring that the fans operate with the lowest possible power consumption. The data obtained by using the Jetmaster Fan Control System on 6 110kW pneumatic fans in the Ova Flour Factory and shared at the ICENTE’23 congress is presented in the Table 1 and Table 2. Table 1 shows the values before the system is installed, Table 2 shows the values after the system is installed.

Table 1. Working Parameter Before Jetmaster Installed

Table 2. Working Parameter After Jetmaster Installed

CONCLUSION

In the Ova Flour factory, where the artificial intelligence based Jetmaster Fan Control System was installed, the energy consumption of pneumatic fans decreased by 25%, from 592kW to 444kW. In addition to energy saving, trouble-free operation is ensured by perfectly adapting to the starting, stopping, and intermediate waiting periods. Thermal overcurrent protection and pipe clogging problems are prevented. Since the system eliminates the use of excess capacity, the amount of savings to be achieved will vary depending on the businesses.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Dr. Nihat ÇANKAYA was born in Konya in 1974. He completed his undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies in the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. He graduated his master’s degree on jet filters and his doctorate on control theory. As the 3rd generation representative of the milling profession, Dr. Nihat Çankaya worked in various positions in factories producing flour, semolina, and pasta, and took part in various projects in important companies of the sector in Italy, Switzerland, France, and Germany. After working as Technical Manager of Selva Pasta, he still works as a lecturer at Necmettin Erbakan University MMYO Milling Program. He is also the Energy Management Coordinator of Necmettin Erbakan University. He speaks English and Italian, and his studies are concentrated in the following areas. He is also the coordinator of various TUBITAK and R&D projects on related subjects. Dr. Nihat Çankaya has many academic studies, articles within the scope of SCI, and various patents. He offers sector-specific solutions by producing high-tech equipment with the Jetmaster Technology company he founded.

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