Seymour Plant Quietly Achieves Important GHG Reduction Milestone
Matt Abdallah and the lab operations team at the Seymour Engine Plant.
DEC. 3, 2015 WAS A VERY GOOD DAY FOR MATT ABDALLAH AND HIS TEAM AT THE SEYMOUR ENGINE PLANT IN SEYMOUR, INDIANA.
After months of work, and more than a year of planning, the lab operations team Abdallah leads used two regenerative dynamometers, or regen dynos for short, to capture enough energy from the high horsepower engines being tested at the plant to meet all of its electrical needs.
While the dynos had been recovering enough power to reduce the plant’s draw from the utility company, this was the first time the draw was zero since the dynos went into operation in the third quarter of 2015. It only happened for a short time, but it was a sign the team’s hard work was paying off.
“We didn’t have any kind of brown out and the lights didn’t flicker, which meant the power supplied by the dynos was of really good quality,” said Mike VanLiew, the leader of test technology for High Horsepower Engineering Lab Operations.
Since then, the plant has reached “zero draw” numerous times, including on March 1, 2016, when the plant was self-generating for more than five hours and most likely exporting electricity to its local utility over that time period.
The Seymour plant builds some of the largest engines Cummins makes – the QSK95, for example, is 8 feet tall and 14 feet long. High horsepower engines go through a lot of testing before they are released to customers, and that testing uses a lot of fuel, which can dramatically increase the plant’s carbon footprint.
To a large extent, however, the power generated by the engines during testing at Seymour had been lost before the regen dynos arrived, converted into heat and dissipated completely by a cooling tower.
Capturing that power using the regen dynos means getting more out of the fuel used in testing, which is good for the environment because it ultimately reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says CO2 is a key contributor to climate change and the primary greenhouse gas (GHG) emitted through human activities.
Cummins has many regen dynos at facilities around the world, but the two installed in test cells 16 and 17 at Seymour are the largest at any location.
They look like large black boxes, as big or bigger than the engines being tested. They take the energy generated by the engines and convert it into electricity that can be handled by what looks like a small electrical substation located on plant property just outside the test cells.
VanLiew is projecting that the regen dynos will produce about 7,000 MWh (megawatt hours) of electricity in 2016, which is about 20 percent of the site’s total electric consumption in 2015. That will save the equivalent of about one month’s total electric bill and result in an avoidance of about 10 percent of the plant’s annual GHG emissions.
The regen dynos at Seymour represented a significant investment in the plant’s test cells and more evaluation is necessary. But VanLiew and Abdallah say the early results are promising.