One of the most exciting technologies impacting the ability of end-users to optimize blowers at their wastewater treatment plants and manufacturing operations is controls. Blower & Vacuum Best Practices interviewed Tim Hilgart, of Howden America, to get his perspective on blower controls technology and its application.
The value of controls technology to optimize blowers is only expected to increase as wastewater treatment plants and industrial operations alike look to improve production and save energy. Shown are Howden KA Single-stage turbo blowers at a major wastewater treatment plant.
Good morning! Tell us about your professional background and experience with blower control technology.
At Howden, I lead the Environmental Sales Team for North America, which covers the United States, Canada and Mexico. Environmental Sales is how we describe the side of the business involving blowers and low-pressure, high-volume air compressors in the wastewater industry, as well as various marine applications. We have another division dedicated to industrial blowers used in industrial applications, such those found in cement manufacturing, mining, and food and beverage applications among others.
Tim Hilgart, Environmental and Digital Data Advantage Sales Leader, Howden America.
I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Marquette University in 1996. Since then, blower control technology has been an integral part of my career. This includes my first job out of college at Energy Strategies Corp. (ESCOR), which is a company involved in advanced aeration controls. I later joined General Electric’s Industrial Air and Gas Technology business unit. At both companies, I spent considerable time focused on PLC and HMI programming for blowers and various applications.
Describe a basic blower control system used in today’s treatment plants and factories.
Fundamentally, a typical blower control system is comprised of controllers used on individual blowers to modulate the airflow to the system, while a centralized Master Control Panel integrates the blowers and ensures they work to together to achieve optimum energy efficiency based on the processes involved.
Realistically, there are three hardware and control strategies for blowers and air compressors.
The first is protection-only controls where you’re basically making sure the blower is operating safely, and if it gets out of stable range, shuts it down to protect it. The second strategy is what we call “process controls” in which we vary the speed and/or change the guide vane parameters to change the flow and pressure output of the machine. The third leg is tying the blowers in with the master control, which coordinates all blower operations, including lead/lag swapping, total volume, total pressure output, and splitting the load and integrating it into larger process control systems.
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