Sinexcel takes a monumental stride forward with 40 - 90kHz switching frequencies in their “Ultra” generation of Active Harmonic Filter (AHF) with SiC Mosfet technology – the epitome of groundbreaking advancements in power electronics engineering.
In recent times, the use of high-power Low Harmonic Drives (LHD’s) has increased. However, do their benefits outweigh their cost and space demands? Or do more cost-effective solutions exist? With our experience in the field, we believe that Active Harmonic Filters are still the preferred choice in many applications.
Exploring truly engineered harmonic mitigation solutions early in the design process, can make a huge positive impact to the overall project capital costs and ongoing operational efficiencies.
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In simple terms, harmonics are extra frequencies that when present in an electrical circuit, distort the AC sine wave. A harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency. For example, if the fundamental frequency is f, the harmonics have frequencies 2f, 3f, 4f... etc.
Harmonic frequencies are equally spaced by the width of the fundamental frequency and can be found by repeatedly adding that frequency. In the case of the Australian electricity supply, the fundamental frequency is 50Hz. The frequencies of the harmonics are 100Hz, 150Hz, 200Hz, 250Hz, 300Hz, 350Hz and so on.
For electrical systems to function in their intended manner without significant loss of performance or life, they require a supply of electricity that is of good quality. Good quality electrical power has the following characteristics:
- It must have a continuity of service (not be interrupted).
- It must have a very low Harmonic content.
- It must have a very low variation in the voltage magnitude.
- It must have very low transient voltages and currents.
The term 'clean power' is used to describe electricity that is considered to be of good quality (see above) with particular reference to a very low harmonic content. Therefore, the term 'dirty power' is used to describe electricity that is considered to be of low quality (opposite to the above) with particular reference to a very high harmonic content.
In Australia, our electricity is supplied in alternating current at a frequency of 50Hz. In alternating current (AC) the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current (DC), the flow of electric charge is only in one direction. 50Hz means that the AC has a frequency of 50 cycles per second. This is also known as the 'fundamental' frequency. AC is the form in which electricity is delivered to businesses and residences. Most electrical devices (such as motors) need clean electricity to function properly. This means that the electrical supply needs to be a clear sinusoidal wave.
If you occasionally experience some unexplained occurrences such as flickering lights, alarms going off, or MCB's, MCCB's, RCD's and Earth Leakage devices tripping for no apparent reason, you are most likely experiencing harmonics in your electrical environment. Other signs are cables running hot, hot switchboards or overheating motors. If you are replacing your motor's bearings & insulation often, that's a strong indication of the presence of harmonics.
Harmonics are very harmful within an electrical system and can have serious consequences. For example, the presence of harmonics reduces the life of equipment. It is possible that the investment that you made in your motors & drives will not be realised if they are damaged and need replacing before their expected life span. This can be very expensive. Harmonics cause things to run hot, which cause stress on the cables and equipment.
In the long term, this degrades an electrical system. The presence of harmonics will also mean that although you will get billed for the power that you are supplied, a large percentage of that power may be unusable. Harmonic mitigation is taking action to minimise the presence of harmonics in your electrical system and can achieve great cost savings.
Variable Speed Drives (also known as Variable Frequency Drives) are prolific creators of harmonics in electrical systems and as a result, most of the harmonic mitigation effort focuses on the input side and output side of a VFD.
Depending on the specific situation, there are a variety of products that are used to mitigate harmonics. Fuseco's Power Quality Consultants can assist by conducting a site analysis or simply providing advice based on the details of the particular electrical system. Here is a brief summary of the product groups:
Line (input) side of the VSD
- Line Reactors Simple & cost-effective method to reduce harmonics. Available in 3% & 5% versions.
- Passive Harmonic Filters Significantly reduces harmonics from the VSD back out to the system and also improves true power factor.
- Meets the IEEE519 Standard.
- Active Harmonic Filters Active filters inject a 180 degree inverse current to nullify the harmonic content going back out to the system. They mitigate harmonics, compensate for voltage dips & can handle multiple VSD's relative to the reactive power required. Meets the IEEE519 Standard.
Load (output) side of the VSD
- Load Reactors Simple & cost-effective method to reduce harmonics. Available in 3% & 5% versions.
- dV/dT Filters dV/dT filters have been designed to limit peak voltage and increase voltage rise time. In addition to mitigating harmonics, the dV/dT filter also clips voltage spikes.
- Sinewave Filters The ultimate load side harmonic mitigation product. Filters all harmonics, including reflective currents, eddy currents, common mode currents. Can be used for long cable runs (many kms). Stops the heating of cables. Great for the longevity of motors.
From the moment the AHF and SVG units were turned on our power factor issues were a thing of the past. At both sites our PF is now 0.99 on all phases all the time, the units react instantaneously to our fluctuating load and power factor and the result has been an excellent return on investment.
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