Optimizing energy efficiency and cost savings in pipeline transportation: The impact of variable frequency drives
Proceedings Publication Date
Syrine Ben Jebria
Syrine Ben Jebria
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Electricity prices growth and energetic sobriety times led to numerous studies aiming at reducing our consumption during this era of energy transition.

TRAPIL operate the first refined oil pipeline network in France. This study aims to build a multi-year program, an optimization approach is introduced to improve the pump flow rate management through our pipeline, which is currently controlled by control valves.

At present pumps operate in a binary mode: Either “STOP” when the motor is stopped and “START” during which the motor is at its nominal flow rate. Once in function, the set point for a given pressure or flowrate is reached through the opening/closing action of the valve. This system is advantageous due to its simplicity in control, but generates head loss and therefore energy loss. The energy consumption can be greatly reduced by using variable frequency drives (VFDs), which can automatically adjust the motor’s operating frequency to maintain a target pressure or a flow rate, changing pump speed and therefore optimizing flow performance.

An attempt was made to assess the energy savings. To do this, data such as pressures and flow rates were extracted. Calculations were performed to determine the power consumption in both cases (control valve and VFD).

The results show that energetic consumption can be reduced by up to 6 % for a single station, leading to costs savings and a better carbon footprint. An additional advantage of installing a VFD is the ability to achieve a soft start. Indeed, the VFD can gradually increase the nominal frequency rotation of the motor, limiting torque and therefore absorbing a reasonable amount of power.

This study can be implemented to each specific network. Such a cost reduction offers new strategic opportunities for investment in pipelines transportation in a context of rising energy prices.

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