In today’s demanding production and manufacturing environments, using variable frequency drives (VFDs) to adjust the speed of motors and other process equipment can help reduce energy consumption, provide tighter process control and extend equipment life. When VFDs offered so many benefits, Eaton’s engineers wondered why industrial companies were still using basic On/Off motor controllers in certain areas of their facilities?
After visiting with customers to dig into the problem, Eaton got to the heart of the issue: VFDs couldn’t be placed in Class I, Division 1 or 2 locations. Trying to place a VFD in an explosionproof enclosure wasn’t an option because the heat generated by the VFD inside the enclosure would cause it to fail. What seemed like the end of the story for VFDs was actually just the beginning.
The obvious work-around is to place the VFD in a non-hazardous control room and run conduit and motor cable to the process in the hazardous area. But finding space to house VFDs, as well as the difficult and complicated installation involved, often proved too expensive and time-consuming to make sense for customers.
Drawing on the deep experience of its Crouse-Hinds business in harsh and hazardous environments, the Eaton team figured out how to build an explosionproof enclosure with a heavy-duty blower that provided constant internal airflow, allowing the VFD inside to operate reliably at temperatures up to 50ºC. By coupling the blower with a system of innovative filters and pre-filter screens, it became possible to allow this airflow—without jeopardizing the explosionproof integrity of the enclosure.
Throughout the process, sharing early-stage designs with customers was critical. Even though the new enclosure was revolutionary, without an explosionproof window and keypad to control the VFD, it would be necessary to shut down operations to make any process changes or adjustments (which, in oil and gas production, can cost millions of dollars). After two years of intensive R&D, an explosionproof VFD was ready to hit the facility floor—simple to operate and safe in the most hazardous environments.
Running conduit and motor cable from VFD in a nonhazardous control room to the process in the classified location requires a complex and costly engineered installation—while the Explosionproof VFD can be installed ‘”on machine” directly in the hazardous area
Eaton is always looking for innovative ways to help customers improve operations and reduce energy consumption, without ever compromising safety. With Eaton’s Crouse-Hinds series ACE explosionproof VFDs, any high-consequence production environment can put the benefits of intelligent process management to work—from accessing real-time equipment data to fine-tuning the speed and torque of pumps, compressors, fans, conveyors, separators and mixers—while meeting the highest standards of safety.
Learn about the Crouse-Hinds series ACE explosionproof VFD, explore Eaton industrial control solutions and see how Eaton innovation is energizing customers’ business across industries and around the world.