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ABB looks to boost cooling system efficiency at CERN

SWITZERLAND: Technology company ABB will be looking to improve the energy efficiency of cooling and ventilation systems used for lab experiments at CERN, the site of the Large Hadron Collider.

Located on the French-Swiss border, CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s leading laboratories for particle physics. 

ABB’s non-commercial project will demonstrate how data insight delivered by the ABB Ability Digital Powertrain and service expertise can be applied to make better decisions about saving energy and increasing reliability at large-scale research facilities. 

The focus will be on motor-driven applications like pumps and fans. Currently, motors used to power pumps, fans, compressors, and cooling towers account for 20% of CERN’s total energy consumption, or approximately 260GWh.


The partnership will also act as a blueprint for other energy intensive research institutions that would like to reduce their environmental footprint and improve reliability.

“Our innovation partnerships help us to enable positive societal impact from our work pushing the limits of science and engineering at CERN,” said Han Dols, CERN’s head of business development and entrepreneurship. “We have partnered with ABB to generate insights to help reduce our own electricity footprint, as we continue to test the extremes at such a large facility. We also hope to inspire other big science facilities and industry to do the same and, as such, have agreed with ABB to share the learnings of this project publicly.”

Mari E Haapala, ABB’s motion digital lead said: “Our partnership with CERN will illustrate what can be achieved with insights from digital energy appraisals and condition monitoring services that enable smarter decision-making for the electrical rotating equipment in a large-scale science facility. As CERN’s partner, we look forward to helping them on their digital journey to an energy efficient future.”

The partnership will enable collecting digital performance data from hundreds of industrial electric motors and applications. Analysis by ABB’s experts will identify precisely where and how much energy can be saved by adjusting schedules and loads or upgrading to high-efficiency motors and variable speed drives. 

Data will also be used for condition monitoring to maintain the cooling and ventilation system reliability. For example, it will detect vibration that occurs when components are approaching the end of their life. This will enable CERN’s engineers to plan maintenance proactively and protect availability of cooling systems, where a 30-minute unplanned outage could stop an experiment for 48 hours. 

The switch from reactive to predictive maintenance will also cut maintenance costs.

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