CERN partners with ABB to improve energy efficiency of their facilities

A joint research project has started with the aim of improving the energy efficiency of CERN’s cooling and ventilation infrastructure by up to 15%. The results of what can be achieved by combining digital solutions and technical expertise will improve better decision-making not only within CERN, as well as serve as an example for other large-scale facilities.

Improving the energy efficiency of electric motor systems is vital in managing CERN’s environmental footprint and developing technologies that can help society towards a better planet.

CERN is the world’s leading laboratory for particle physics that provides a unique range of particle-accelerator facilities. Around half of the energy consumed at the location is utilized to power the world’s largest and highest-energy particle collider and to run various experiments, with the remaining half being consumed by the required technical infrastructure. This includes motors used to power pumps, fans, compressors, and cooling towers which accounts for about 20% of CERN’s energy consumption.

While CERN is in a continuous expansion of its research facilities, the laboratory is committed to limiting the rise of electricity consumption, carbon emissions, and waste.

“With our ABB partnership, we are looking for innovative ways to reduce the energy consumption of our cooling and ventilation system that will support our vision for a greener future for our planet as well as serve as an example of what can be achieved in other large industrial or research facilities,” says Ingo Ruehl, Head of the Cooling & Ventilation group at CERN.

Achieving energy efficiency with data insights and service expertise

Digitalization plays a crucial role in this endeavour. Better decisions for improvements in energy efficiency are possible with the help of data insights into energy usage paired with service expertise.

To achieve the energy efficiency goals that this project set out to reach, the project team will select specific CERN assets, which will be digitalized to collect data and insights and enable the creation of a digital twin for selected parts of the cooling and ventilation infrastructure. This will provide access to online diagnostics and offer the opportunity to optimize maintenance.

It all starts with the installation of smart sensors on the most critical motors and pumps that are part of the cooling and ventilation system. The sensors work as enablers for the condition monitoring platform that collects data regarding the equipment condition and performance, which will be used by service experts to identify more efficient ways of doing maintenance and to provide recommendations which lead to improved uptime and reliability. Optimal energy efficiency will be achieved through a digital energy appraisal report that will identify motors with high energy consumption and the information will then be used by service experts to reveal how much energy can be potentially saved, where from, and how.

The aim of the research project is to enable CERN to make the best decisions based on real-time data to reduce its energy consumption, carbon emissions, and waste.

“We believe that the steps we are taking in this project together with CERN, open the door for a future where close collaboration with the industries powered by digital solutions will enable outcome-based business models with a big impact on the environment as well as society as a whole”, says Dmitry Svechkarenko, R&D Team lead at ABB Corporate Research.

The project is aimed to run until the end of 2023 and will involve several phases which include the assessment of the infrastructure and development of requirements, installation of measurement equipment on physical devices, and the deployment of the digital twin and its application.

Once opportunities for improvement are identified and recommendations are received, following CERN’s decision, the most efficient energy consumption scenarios will be implemented.

“A digital powertrain is not only a motor or a variable speed drive or a pump but also devices and services for sensing and monitoring these assets. The information provided by using digital solutions, such as condition monitoring and digital twins, can be used to optimize operation and maintenance. With its operation size and exceptionally structured management of both the infrastructure and the data, CERN is a perfect partner for us.”, explains Matti Laitinen, Research Manager at ABB Motion.

Results and best practices that will come out of this one-of-a-kind partnership will be shared with the scientific community to illustrate how industries and large-scale research facilities around the world can become more energy efficient with already available digital solutions. Reducing CERN’s energy consumption will help to make a positive environmental impact, thus contributing to preserving our planet’s resources.

Article by: ABB

Pedro Mier

Pedro Mier holds a degree in Telecommunications Engineer ing from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, MBA from ESADE and PADE from IESE. He is currently President of AMETIC (Association of Electronics, Information Technology and Telecommunications Companies of Spain), Shareholder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of TRYO Aerospace & Electronics, Board Member of the Premo Group and Committee of CTTC. member of Space Angels Network and Member of the Sc ientific Advisory