ABB medium-voltage drives and motors power wind tunnel

New Berlin, Wis. - ABB has recently been awarded a $29-million order from the U.S. Air Force for large drives and motors at the Arnold Engineering & Development Center's (AEDC) Propulsion Wind Tunnel facility (Tullahoma, Tenn.).

By Frank J. Bartos, executive editor January 28, 2002

New Berlin, Wis. ABB has recently been awarded a $29-million order from the U.S. Air Force for large drives and motors at the Arnold Engineering & Development Center’s (AEDC) Propulsion Wind Tunnel facility (Tullahoma, Tenn.). Most of the turnkey project’s value ($22 million) goes to two new 69,000 hp ABB Medium Voltage (MV) ac drives and motors, which replace two 40,000 hp motor/drives. The remainder of the project involves transformers, switchgear, harmonic filters, facility controls, and construction/installation services.

Wind tunnel facilities at AEDC can simulate flight velocities from subsonic to more than Mach 20 and conditions from sea level to altitudes up to 100,000 ft. Depending on test requirements, the new ABB drives can power the wind tunnel’s fans in 1) adjustable-speed mode or 2) start up and synchronize the two 83,000-hp, fixed-speed motors to run at a constant speed. These MV drives develop maximum power of 304,000 hp at 600 rpm.

ABB, New Berlin, is the main contractor on the project, with ABB Industrie AG, Switzerland, providing the power electronics, and Cutler-Hammer Engineering Services responsible for construction services.

As large as this system is, the world’s largest adjustable-speed drive installation is at NASA’s National Transonic Facility (Hampton, Va.) running a 135,000-hp synchronous motor at over 100 Megawatts of power! For more details of this adjustable-speed drive application, also supplied by ABB, see CE, May 1998, p. 34 or visit /archives/1998/ctl0501.98/05glnws.htm .

In a separate $7-million turnkey project, ABB is replacing two 30-MW soft starter units that start up a total of 18 synchronous motors rated in the 27,000-52,000 hp range at AEDC’s Aeropropulsion System Test Facility.