ABB delivers world's largest adjustable-speed drive
Breaking the sound barrier isn't easy, especially if you're at ground level standing still. However, that's exactly what engineers at NASA's National Transonic Facility (NTF) can do with their wind tunnel's new 135,000 hp (101 MW) adjustable speed drive and motor system from ABB Industrial Systems Inc.
Breaking the sound barrier isn't easy, especially if you're at ground level standing still. However, that's exactly what engineers at NASA's National Transonic Facility (NTF) can do with their wind tunnel's new 135,000 hp (101 MW) adjustable speed drive and motor system from ABB Industrial Systems Inc. (New Berlin, Wis.). ABB teamed with Raytheon Engineers and Constructors on the $25 million contract.
ABB's 32 × 30 × 30 ft load-commutated inverter drive is nearly twice as big as any other drive in the world, and the 23 × 20 × 18 ft ac synchronous motor weighs 360 tons, not including coolers and accessories. The drive and motor are critical power/mechanical components turning the giant fan to create the tunnel's controlled, Mach-1-plus wind conditions, needed to test aircraft at transonic speeds. The drive can run at over 100 MW—well exceeding the previous record of 65 MW—and turn the wind tunnel's fan at 600 rpm, producing wind speeds up to 1.2 times the speed of sound or about 900 mph.
This added fan power from ABB's single-drive-and-motor configuration has expanded NTF's testing capabilities. The wind tunnel can simulate full-scale, in-flight performance characteristics of large transport aircraft flying at 600-900 mph, and is also the only tunnel in the world able to simulate "Reynolds numbers" in the 50-100 million range that manufacturers need to optimize designs and shorten product development cycles.
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