Dec. 3, 2015 was a very good day for Matt Abdallah and his team at the Seymour Engine Plant in Seymour, Indiana.
After months of work, and more than a year of planning, the lab operations team used two regenerative dynamometers, or regen dynos for short, to capture enough energy from high horsepower engines being tested to meet all of the plant’s electrical needs.
While the dynos had been recovering enough power to reduce the plant’s draw from the utility company, this was the first time that draw was zero since the dynos went into operation last fall. It only happened twice over a 30-minute time period, but it was a sign the team’s hard work was paying off.
“We didn’t have any kind of brown out and the lights didn’t flicker, which meant the power supplied by the dynos was of really good quality,” said Mike VanLiew, the leader of test technology at High Horsepower Engineering Lab Operations. “If you had been in the plant then, you probably wouldn’t know anything had happened.”
Uneventful was just the way VanLiew wanted it, but in fact it was a momentous occasion. The Seymour plant builds some of the largest engines Cummins makes – the QSK95, for example, is 8 feet tall and 14 feet long. High horsepower engines go through a lot of testing before they are released to customers, and that testing uses a lot of fuel, which can dramatically increase the plant’s carbon footprint.
To a large extent, however, the power generated by the engines during testing at Seymour has been lost, converted into heat and dissipated completely by a cooling tower or perhaps captured for some kind of productive but less efficient use.
Capturing that power using the regen dynos means getting more out of the fuel used in testing, which is good for the environment because it ultimately reduces carbon dioxide emissions (CO2). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says CO2 is a key contributor to global warming and the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities.
Cummins has many regen dynos at facilities around the world, but the ones installed at Seymour in 2014 are the biggest at any location.
The regen dynos in test cells 16 and 17 look like large black boxes, as big or bigger than the engines being tested. They take the energy generated by the engines and convert it into electricity that can be handled by what looks like a small electrical substation located on plant property just outside the test cells.
VanLiew is projecting that the regen dynos will produce about 7,000 MWh of electricity in 2016, which is about 20 percent of the site’s total electric consumption the year before. That will save the equivalent of about one month’s total electric bill and result in an avoidance of about 4,800 metric tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) or about 10 percent of the plant’s annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“Capturing the energy produced at our high horsepower facilities is a real opportunity to be good environmental stewards while producing quality products for our customers,” said Alan Resnik, Director of Environmental Management for Facilities & Operations. “I commend the hard work our teams in Seymour are doing in this important area.”
The regen dynos at Seymour represented a significant investment in the plant’s test cells and more evaluation is necessary. But VanLiew and Abdallah say the early results are promising.
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