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VFD Line Sync System for Weil Group Helium Processing

A 3 Phase Power Systems project case study

Arcticsands Thermal Industries contacted 3 Phase Power Systems recently on behalf of Weil Helium Processing, a developer of global energy and resource projects, to supply power solutions for a large helium processing facility in Saskatchewan.

This new $10 million facility, completed in April 2016 by theWeil Helium Processing, supplies refined industrial-grade helium to North American markets. This state-of-the-art facility purifies inert gas from existing wells to a “Grade A” industrial helium, producing over 40 million cubic feet of helium per year. Saskatchewan is excited to welcome the revival of the helium industry through this project, an industry that has been inactive in the province for 50 years.

“At 600V, no other manufacturer/packager offered a proven system for VFD start -synchronize and bypass run.”

-Mike Keevill, Arcticsands Thermal Industries

The 3 Phase Power Systems solution

3 Phase Power Systems designed and built a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) Line Sync system within a short eight-week timeframe, including delivering the product to Calgary for integration into an E-House.

3 Phase Power Systems designed a solution whereby a Vacon VFD, running a Line Sync application, starts the 675 HP reciprocating compressor under VFD control until it is at line frequency and then switches on a contactor to run directly from the line. Once the unit is up to line frequency, the Danfoss VACON NXP VFD is able to make small adjustments to the internal frequency reference so that the line voltage angle and VFD voltage angle are within set limits. At this point the VFD is disconnected from the motor and the motor is directly connected to the line with no noticeable power disturbance.

Challenges for Weil Group’s helium project included:

  • Lync syncing and shut-off, which facilitate heat dissipation within the E-House and eliminate the need for additional air conditioning units.
  • Building a system within the space restrictions of the E-House.
  • Keeping harmonic disturbances within the range of IEEE 519: the limits of the VFD running time and syncing to the line also limits the quantity and duration of harmonic disturbances.
  • Starting a high load torque system was not feasible: the site utility power system located at the end of the transmission line was extremely weak (X/R ~ 1). High starting torques on a weak system can lead to power dip and sag, which can adversely affect other plant equipment on the distribution systems.

Another 3 Phase Power Systems success story

Mike Dube, 3 Phase Power Systems Service Manager, arrived on site to commission the equipment (Vacon 700 Horsepower heavy duty NXP with Line Sync) in May 2016.

With a single PLC input, the Vacon NXP starts the motor, smoothly ramps up to the line frequency, synchronizes to line frequency and transfers the motor. After testing and adjusting the contactor timing and transfer frequency, the motor was connected and the first trial start-up was made. The system was ready within two days and has been performing without incident ever since.

3 Phase is proud to have been part of such an important project for the Weil Helium Processing and for the Province of Saskatchewan.

As Mike Keevill from Arcticsands has stated, “At 600V, no other manufacturer/packager offered a proven system for VFD start -synchronize and bypass run.”