ABB's ultra-low harmonic ACH580 drives improve energy efficiency for ice making at Oulu Energy Arena

ABB's ultra-low harmonic ACH580 drives improve energy efficiency for ice making at Oulu Energy Arena

ABB has successfully supplied Oulu Energy Arena with ACH580-31 ultra-low harmonic (ULH) drives to get better energy efficiency in ice making. These drives use one of the latest frequency converter technologies on the market, designed for super energy efficient heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) control, and manufactured at ABB's plant in Finland.

Oulu Energy Arena is an ice rink which can hold approximately 6,500 spectators and is part of the Raksila Sports Centre in the city of Oulu, in northern Finland. The rink is best known as the home arena of the Oulun Kärpät ice hockey team.

The delivery of the ABB drives was included in a four-year renovation project that was completed in late 2021. The new drives control the compressor applications, ensuring reliable and energy-efficient ice making on the rink.

Energy-efficient equipment with minimal harmonic disturbances

Prior to the renovation, the facility was experiencing challenges in the power network due to harmonic distortion coming from the drives by another manufacturer. The quality of both the voltage and the current without filtration were on poor levels, and creating unwanted side effects.

“The harmonic distortion had caused operational problems in the power network and in other electrical equipment,” explains Jyrki Kumpuniemi, Head of Building Technology at the City of Oulu Facilities Department. “Since the new ABB drives were installed, this is not an issue any longer, because the ultra-low harmonic ACH580-31 drives don’t generate harmonics in the first place.”

In addition to the benefits of energy savings and low harmonics, another important reason for choosing ABB's HVACR equipment was influenced by the total delivery cost and fast delivery time promised, adds Mr. Kumpuniemi. “Even though the schedule we set was very challenging, the deliveries from the Helsinki factory arrived within the agreed time.”

  • Oulu Energy Arena is an ice rink in Raksila, and home of the Oulun Kärpät ice hockey team. (Photo: City of Oulu).
  • Ice making can be an energy intensive process. ABB's ultra-low harmonic ACH580 drives are used for energy efficient ice making. (Photo: Adobe Stock)
  • ACH580-31 HVACR drives in place at Oulu Energy Arena. They are the most compact ULH frequency converters on the market and can be installed side by side for valuable space savings. (Photo: Pirkko Väänäniemi).
  • The entire ABB ultra-low harmonic drives family.

Multiple benefits of ultra-low harmonic drives for HVACR

The primary role of HVACR drives is to control the applications more efficiently and according to demand, so that they consume only as much energy as the building really needs. As a rule of thumb, drives save on average 20 to 60% of the energy previously used by HVACR systems with mechanical control, such as throttling.

Reduced oversizing is another critical way that ABB's ultra-low harmonic drive technology saves money. For example, a normal drive requires the supply transformer to be oversized by approximately 35% to reliably handle the increased line current and avoid overheating due to harmonics. But for the ABB ultra-low harmonic solution based on the active front end technology, this is not needed because almost no harmonics are generated. This results in a 50% smaller generator, 10-30% smaller feed breakers, and cost savings of up to 20% on supply transformers.

Seamless integration and compact footprint add to the benefits

“Another important benefit of ABB's ACH580 inverter series for HVACR is its easy connectivity to building automation systems, with all common automation protocols built-in including BACnet,” says Juho Mustonen, Account Manager at ABB. “Furthermore, these are the most compact ultra-low harmonic HVACR drives on the market with harmonics mitigation built-in. So they can be installed side by side thus saving valuable space in the building – with no bulky external harmonic filters required.”

ACH580-31 ULH drives are part of ABB drives’ all-compatible portfolio, which offers a broad selection of drives and services. All of these drives share the same software platform, tools, user interfaces and options, simplifying the ease of use – while retaining broad flexibility to make this drives portfolio optimal for any application or use.


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