ABB and CERN identify 17.4 percent energy-saving opportunity in cooling and ventilation motors

ABB and CERN identify 17.4 percent energy-saving opportunity in cooling and ventilation motors

  • Joint research identified energy-saving potential equivalent to more than 18,000 European households, via an ABB energy efficiency audit
  • Initiative surpassed CERN’s ambition of finding opportunities to cut cooling and ventilation energy use by 10-15 percent
  • CERN will use the data to selectively upgrade motors with the highest energy saving potential, with projected payback time of less than two years
  • ABB and CERN will publish lessons learned about their research method for the interest of other big science and industrial sites

ABB and CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, have identified significant energy-saving potential through a strategic research partnership focused on the cooling and ventilation system at one of the world’s leading laboratories for particle physics institute, located in Geneva, Switzerland. The study included energy efficiency audits which have helped to identify a savings potential of 17.4 percent across a fleet of 800 motors. 

The research, conducted between 2022 and 2023, followed an agreement between ABB and CERN. This saw the partners developing a roadmap for reducing the energy consumption of the site’s cooling and ventilation system via data-driven energy efficiency audits. It has identified potential annual energy savings of up to 31 gigawatt-hours (GWh). If achieved, these savings could be enough to power more than 18,000 European households1 and could avoid four kilotonnes of CO2 emissions2, the same as planting over 420,000 trees3.

Energy efficiency audits work by evaluating the performance and efficiency of motors based on their operational data. Audits help large facilities like CERN to identify the most significant energy saving opportunities across whole fleets of motors. CERN and ABB experts assessed a wide variety of data from motors in various cooling and ventilation applications. They combined data from multiple sources, including digitally-connected motors, CERN’s SCASA system and data gathered directly from their pumps, piping, and instrumentation. The experts analyzed the efficiency of the whole system to provide insights to pinpoint the motors with the best business case for energy efficiency upgrades.

“We are proud to cooperate with CERN and support its ambition to conduct physics research with a low-carbon footprint, by helping them to achieve more energy-efficient operations of their cooling and ventilation systems,” said Erich Labuda, President of the Motion Services division at ABB. “This research project represents another step in CERN’s energy efficiency journey. As an institution with a large installed base of motors, working with CERN is a great example of how we can support in making a big impact in improving energy efficiency as part of the transition to a low-carbon society.”

Giovanni Anelli, Head of the Knowledge Transfer group at CERN said, “The collaboration with ABB was set up with the aim of optimizing the laboratory’s cooling and ventilation infrastructure to reduce its energy consumption and is in line with CERN’s commitment to minimize its environmental footprint as well as to share the findings publicly for the greater impact on society. It’s a great example of a collaboration where each side brings their own contribution to the table. CERN brings its large-scale infrastructure and ABB contributes with its technology and service expertise. We are very happy with the final result of this research project as we have exceeded our goal of identifying a 10-15 percent energy efficiency improvement.” 

  • Cooling & ventilation system; Photo credit: CERN
  • Cooling & ventilation system; Photo credit: CERN
  • Cooling & ventilation system; Photo credit: CERN
  • The Large Hadron Collider; Photo credit: CERN

“Cooling and ventilation systems are a fantastic first place to look for energy efficiency upgrades,” Labuda elaborated. “This is because they are often overdesigned, being specified to operate at a maximum load way above the average. In fact, we found one pump motor at CERN with an energy-saving potential of 64 percent. It is also important to not just evaluate motor efficiency, but the system as a whole – including the fans, condensers and cooling towers. This holistic approach supports the improvement of CERN’s overall energy efficiency and reliability.”

CERN’s next step is to create a roadmap for the upgrade of the first motors to the solutions recommended as part of the energy efficiency audit: IE5-rated Synchronous Reluctance Motors (SynRM) operating with variable speed drives (VSDs). These motors will also be digitally connected, enabling condition monitoring solutions to accurately monitor their health and performance to ensure maximum uptime.

Learn more about ABB’s Energy Efficiency and Circularity.  

ABB Motion keeps the world turning – while saving energy every day. We innovate and push the boundaries of technology to enable the low-carbon future for customers, industries and societies. With our digitally enabled drives, motors and services our customers and partners achieve better performance, safety and reliability. We offer a combination of domain expertise and technology to deliver the optimum drive and motor solution ​for a wide range of applications in all industrial segments.​Through our global presence we are always close to serve our customers. Building on over 140 years of cumulative experience​ in electric powertrains, we learn and​ improve every day.

CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics , is one of the world's leading laboratories for particle physics. The Organization is located on the French-Swiss border, with its headquarters in Geneva. Its Member States are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Cyprus, Estonia and Slovenia are Associate Member States in the pre-stage to Membership. Croatia, India, Latvia, Lithuania, Pakistan, Turkey and Ukraine are Associate Member States. The European Union, Japan, JINR, the Russian Federation, UNESCO and the United States of America currently have Observer status. The Observer status of the Russian Federation and of JINR is suspended in accordance with the CERN Council Resolutions of 8 March 2022 and 25 March 2022, respectively.



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