Optidrive helps scientists research work in harsh Antarctic conditions

The work of scientists undertaking environmental and seismic research in harsh Antarctic conditions is being helped with variable frequency drive (VFD) technology from Invertek Drives.

The US Ice Drilling Program undertakes research in countries throughout the world, including the Arctic and Antarctic.

In one drilling application, they create shot holes in thick Antarctic ice for seismic geophysical exploration using a Rapid Air Movement (RAM) Drill powered by high-density air. The air drives rotating cutters deep into the ice and blows the ice chips from the hole.

The air pipe feeding the drill, which can reach depths of 90 metres, and associated equipment weighed more than 24,000lbs. This was costly to transport to the Antarctic and during the research expeditions.

Scientists undertook significant modifications to the system, including reducing the size and weight of the hose reel feeding the drill.

In order to control the motion of the hose reel accurately to ensure the drill’s intricate movement through the ice, they used Invertek Drives Optidrive E3 VFD.

The modifications, including reducing the size of the hose and reel, reduced the weight significantly from 24,000lbs to 8,000lbs.

“The scientists needed to have accurate control over the motion of the reel to feed the drill through the ice. The Optidrive E3 was installed to control the reel motor, allowing them intricate control over the motor’s speed,” said Pete Roberts, Sales Manager for Invertek Drives USA which supplied the drive.

“The E3’s compact design meant it was perfect for the redesigned system and was easily integrated into the control system.

“Testing was undertaken and the VFD has worked perfectly for the drilling application in what are quite harsh conditions in Antarctica. They have also used the Optitools software to control and change the parameters of the drive through a PC, as well as an Optipad 3 remote keypad.”

The Optidrive E3 used was a 200-240v, 3HP, 10.5A IP20. The E3 provides precise motor control and energy savings in a range of applications for motor and pump control. It is available in IP20 and IP66 / NEMA 4X enclosures.

The Optipad 3 remote keypad provides a high-quality TFT display and mimics the drive display and keypad function. It provides access to all drive parameters and operating information, such as output frequency and current, and can also display user-defined scaled values.

More details about the Optidrive VFD rage and associated Invertek Drives motor and pump control technology can be found at www.invertekdrives.com.

Details about the US Ice Drilling Program can be found at www.icedrill.org.

For more media information, contact:

Owain Betts, Media and Communications

t: +44 (0)1938 558 253

m: +44 (0)7787 437 052

e: Owain.Betts@invertek.co.uk