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ABB vertical gearmotors installed in pump stations designed to protect New Orleans from flooding

When completed, the Permanent Canal Closures and Pumps (PCCP) project will be able to pump over 55 billion liters per day from New Orleans’ three outfall canals into Lake Pontchartrain, preventing another natural disaster like the devastating Hurricane Katrina

In August of 2005, a brutal storm hit the Gulf Coast of the United States burying more than 80 percent of the city of New Orleans under 15 feet of water and debris. With more than 1,800 dead and millions of people left homeless, Hurricane Katrina is considered one of the worst natural disasters in US history.

To prevent something like this from ever happening again, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put a temporary pumping system in place, then awarded approximately $615 million for the New Orleans Permanent Canal Closures and Pumps (PCCP) project to keep the city’s three main drainage outfall canals from being overwhelmed in future storms.

Nearly completed pump stations at the mouth of the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue and London Avenue canals feature 17 ABB vertical gearmotors (VGM) that will power massive pumps supplied by Patterson Pump Co. The project also includes 17 ABB ACS 1000i and 5000i medium voltage (MV) drives to control the pump start-up. 

The VGM integrates proven Dodge planetary gear technology with ABB standard low-pole-count motors and is designed for low-speed vertical pumping applications with high-power requirements.  According to Mike Myers, Global Business Manager for Dodge specialty and large gearing, the product offered key advantages for the PCCP project.

VGM vertical gearmotor“The VGM is more efficient than typical pump technologies that utilize high-pole-count motors or right angle reducers with horizontal motors,” said Myers. “Not only is the VGM a more cost competitive than other technologies, it’s also smaller and lighter, which meant substantial savings associated with the civil work required at the pump stations.”

The higher power factor delivered by the VGM design ensures more efficient use of electrical power with less reactive power drawn by the system. Utilizing the reducer to accommodate thrust load is also more cost effective than designing this functionality into the motor. Beyond savings, the VGM also provides maximum pump performance. By using the specific gear reduction ratio required for a specific application, optimized pump speeds can be attained.

“Being able to provide the exact output speed means you can lower vibration levels, decrease radial and axial loads, and create optimal discharge pressure,” Myers says. “This efficient design also results in improved reliability and reduced maintenance. The VGM is an ideal solution for the New Orleans pump stations, but can also be used for circulating water in power plants, desalination plants, irrigation systems and wastewater pumping systems.”

The PCCP project is scheduled for completion in late 2017. When fully operational, the three stations combined will be able to pump 24,300 cubic feet per second. That’s enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in 3.63 seconds.

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ABB’s vertical gearmotors integrate Dodge planetary gearing with standard low-pole-count induction motors to create an efficient, reliable and cost competitive alternative to typical pump technologies. 



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