ABB drives to control critical infrastructure in Sydney’s M4-M5 Link Tunnels

ABB drives to control critical infrastructure in Sydney’s M4-M5 Link Tunnels

  • ABB in Australia to supply ACS880-37, ACS880-07, and ACS880-01 drives to manage and control essential equipment 
  • Supporting safe and reliable tunnel ventilation in Australia’s largest road infrastructure project
  • These drives will minimise harmonics to reduce disturbances in the power network, and save energy

ABB in Australia has been awarded a large order for ABB’s ACS880-37 series cabinet-built ultra-low harmonic (ULH) drives, ACS880-07 cabinet-built single drives, and ACS880-01 wall-mounted single drives to support the management and control of critical infrastructure within Sydney’s M4-M5 Link Tunnels, what’s been referred to as the “missing link” in the city’s motorway network.  Part of WestConnex, Sydney’s underground motorway and Australia’s largest road infrastructure project, these tunnels connect the new M4 at Haberfield, the M8 at St Peters, and sub tunnels to the Rozelle Interchange.

The twin 7.5 kilometre M4-M5 Link Tunnels are being built by Acciona Samsung Bouygues Joint Venture (ASBJV) and will feature up to four lanes to support traffic in each direction and create an underground western bypass of Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD).  These tunnels will further enhance the current travel time savings for drivers using WestConnex, allowing them to save up to 40 minutes on a trip between Parramatta and the Sydney airport. 

As a major infrastructure scheme with multiple stages and obligations, ASBJV required reliable, self-contained drives to work with tunnel exhaust fans, long egress passage fans, and cross passage pressurisation fans.

  • Map of the M4-M5 Link Tunnels
  • Entry to the new M8 and future Gateway project
  • Preparation for pavement inside the M4-M5 Link Tunnels

Proper ventilation and drainage is essential in securing safety, reliability, and efficiency for critical tunnel infrastructures. ULH drives ensure power quality in the tunnel network, making the power system and equipment connected to it more resilient.  ULH drives also allow for smaller supply transformers, backup generators and cables, thereby significantly reducing project costs.  These drives will also facilitate reduced costs in the project by maintaining unity power factor and eliminating reactive power penalties from the utility, in this case AusGrid.

AusGrid’s prescribed limits for harmonic content presented an opportunity for ABB to perform a total harmonic analysis for ASBJV as part of the design process of this project to select the combination of drives required to meet this criterion.  As such, the drives selected for the M4-M5 Link Tunnels, with their inherently engineered low-harmonic capabilities, will reduce disturbances in the power network.

"With this drive technology, not only are harmonic requirements and potential challenges addressed, but they were also mitigated in a very cost-effective way."

Muhammad Hafeez, Electrical Commissioning Lead at ASBJV and Project Manager for the M4-M5 Link Tunnels said, “with this drive technology, not only are harmonic requirements and potential challenges addressed, but they were also mitigated in a very cost-effective way.  If we didn’t have these active front-end drives, we would have needed to purchase additional harmonic correction equipment.”

ABB’s ACS880-37 ULH variable speed drives (VSDs) offer a harmonic content reduction up to 97% and provide a 3% total harmonic current distortion (THDi) at its nominal load, thus exceeding the requirements set by the IEEE519-2014 standard.

With built-in dV/dt filters, the drives commissioned for the M4-M5 Link Tunnels will also reduce the peak voltage applied at the motor terminals. This means the motor is not fatigued with high voltage peaks and works within its specified limits. This is supporting the motor's uninterrupted operation of the tunnels’ lifesaving ventilation system.

The drives also have a voltage boost feature enabling them to boost the output voltage at the VSD by up to 10%, which ensures the motor they’re connected to receives its rated voltage even with the long cable lengths of this project.  This eliminates the motor’s need to draw a higher current to compensate for voltage drop caused by the long cable lengths ensuring the motor stays within its permitted temperature rise, sustaining its durability and extended lifetime.

The availability of ABB’s ACS880-01 wall-mounted single drives in IP21 and IP55 enclosures was a key differentiator for ASBJV.  The high ingress protection will shield against water and dust in in-tunnel installations, thus preventing potential damage to the drive electronics.

ABB’s Override Mode software add-on will allow the drives to continue working, disregarding its own non-critical faults and alarms in case of an incident or fire in the tunnel.

Together, these features underscored ASBJV’s objective to make transport more convenient, reliable and safer for commuters.

  • ABB's ACS880-37 cabinet-built ULH drive
  • The drives being readied for Factory Acceptance Testing at the ABB facility in Finland

Mike Briggs, Head of Motion for ABB in Australia said, “dedication played a key part in ABB being awarded this order, along with our positive relationship management, engineering and design support, and an understanding team focused on empowering ASBJV with application knowledge.”  

Muhammad says, “ABB was with us during complete tender and design stages.  This meant drawings were approved while the contract was being awarded because all technical requirements were catered for upfront. As a result, we didn’t have to spend additional time in design later. It was pivotal from a time-saving perspective.”

ASBJV has also opted for ABB’s Drive Care agreement stemming from a requirement of the state that anything being supplied to this project is under warranty through to 2025. 

“We can now rest assured our drives will be effectively maintained by experts throughout this time.  ABB has produced such an all-inclusive, comprehensive solution for tunnel ventilation that can be easily adopted for future transport projects. We no longer need to start from scratch and easily implementing a tried and tested solution will be very helpful,” says Muhammad.  

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a leading global technology company that energizes the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. By connecting software to its electrification, robotics, automation and motion portfolio, ABB pushes the boundaries of technology to drive performance to new levels. With a history of excellence stretching back more than 130 years, ABB’s success is driven by about 110,000 talented employees in over 100 countries.


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