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Benefits of Variable Speed Fan Drives for Generators

January 13, 2017

Horton publishes whitepaper on the benefits of variable speed fan drives for generator sets.  Testing results show the benefits of lower noise, improved efficiency and prevention of over cooling are gained when a genset is fitted with a variable speed fan drive. 

Executive Summary:

Technologies from the on-highway vehicle markets, designed to reduce fuel consumption, noise and pollutants, are slowly migrating to other applications and industries. The latter includes the power generation market, inclusive of stationary and mobile generator sets. While fully-variable fan drives are proven and standard equipment on heavy-duty commercial vehicles (e.g. semi-trucks), as a means to reduce fuel consumption and noise, they are not standard on generator sets. Moreover, their effect on generator set operation has not been deeply studied. The goals of this study were to determine if a fully-variable fan drive cooling system could reduce fuel consumption and noise on a 100kW generator set and whether those results might be extrapolated to other generator sets. A positive finding could help inform future generator set designs and options and by extension, provide economic and environmental benefits to entities employing generator sets in various applications and environments.

The approach was to use a 100kW generator set to establish a base line in measuring fuel consumption and noise and then modify that same generator with a fully-variable fan drive. Tests would be conducted in a test cell with variables such as load and ambient temperatures being held constant—and other variables, such as fan blade design and material, homogenized to the extent possible.

The result was that the test generator set, modified with the Horton fully-variable fan drive cooling system, provided significant fuel savings and noise reduction over the same generator set with a standard cooling fan. It is believed this result can be extended to other generator sets, with similar benefits, depending on the application and environment in which the generators operate.