MRC laboratory is optimised for efficiency

Energy-efficient variable speed drives from Vacon are being extensively used in HVAC applications at the new Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology building currently being built on the Biomedical Campus in Cambridge UK. A total of 67 drives from the Vacon 100 HVAC range are being installed in the new laboratory building, which will house up to 440 scientists and offer 27,000sq m of fully air conditioned space on three main floors.

Effective and dependable air conditioning is a key requirement for this prestigious new building, which is scheduled for completion in 2012 and which replaces the existing laboratory that, after almost 50 years of operation, has reached the end of its useful working life. To ensure the air conditioning installation is both readily controllable and energy efficient, Vacon 100 HVAC drives, which are specifically optimised for building services applications, have been selected for motor control.

The drives used in this project range in size from 2.2 kW to 55 kW and all have been supplied in IP54 versions so that they can be mounted directly on the walls of the building without the need for further protection. This feature provides significant cost and space savings as well as allowing much greater design flexibility than the more conventional approach of mounting the drives within purpose-built control panels.

Effective integration

Integral BACNet/IP interfaces mean that the drives can be readily and cost-effectively integrated with the overall building management system (BMS) in the new laboratory, without the need for potentially costly additional components. The interfaces support full bidirectional communication with the drives allowing their operation to be monitored and controlled by the BMS to ensure that the energy efficiency of the HVAC installation is optimised under all conditions.

In addition to their integral network interfaces and their availability in IP54 versions, other key features of the Vacon 100 HVAC drives that made them particularly suitable for this high-profile application include space saving compact construction, fast intuitive set up and interference-free operation which is guaranteed by built-in RFI and harmonic filters. The drives also use a high switching frequency to ensure that their operation is inaudible even in quiet environments.

Long reliable service life with minimal maintenance requirements is assured by the use of conservatively rated components and, in particular, by the elimination of electrolytic capacitors. The film capacitors used in the Vacon 100 HVAC drives are not only inherently more reliable and less susceptible to ageing, they are also far more environmentally friendly when they are finally disposed of at the end of the life of the equipment.

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