Q&A: What to know about the new DOE Pump Energy Efficiency Rule

This overview includes implications of the new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Pump Energy Efficiency Rule.

Michael Michaud and Peter Gaydon. All images courtesy of the Hydraulic Institute
Michael Michaud and Peter Gaydon. All images courtesy of the Hydraulic Institute

To get an overview of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Pump Energy Efficiency Rule, Flow Control talked with Michael Michaud, executive director of the Hydraulic Institute (HI), and Peter Gaydon, its director of technical affairs. HI uses a pump systems approach to developing industry standards, providing knowledge and resources, educating the marketplace, and advocating for the industry.

When does the rule go into effect?

The DOE pre-released the Energy Conservation Standard in late December 2015 that will set efficiency standards for commercial and industrial pumps or clean water pumps that operate between 1 to 200 horsepower (hp). Compliance with the new standard is slated for four years after publication in the federal register. The final energy conservation standard was published in the federal register on Jan. 26, 2016, so compliance is set for Jan. 26, 2020. According to DOE estimates, these standards will eventually save 0.29 quadrillion BTUs between 2020 and 2050.

What role did HI play during the development of the DOE’s rule?

Both HI and our members participated on the Appliance Standards Rulemaking and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC), which developed the term sheet that became the basis for the rule. HI members, committees and volunteers provided performance data on more than 3,000 pumps for analysis, wrote the test procedure that was incorporated by reference (HI 40.6-2014 Methods for Rotodynamic Pump Efficiency Testing), and reviewed and commented on proposed rules in public hearings and elsewhere.

HI has been engaged in this issue since 2011 and is committed to keeping the industry connected through its website (pumps.org/doerulemaking) and through regular dialogue with the DOE. In fact, new ASRAC working groups are already underway for circulator pumps, so HI will continue to work proactively with the DOE in the future.

What pumps are affected?

The efficiency standards cover the principle clean water pump categories–such as end suction close-coupled  (ESCC), end suction frame-mounted (ESFM), in-line, radially split multi-stage vertical in-line diffuser casing (RSV) and submersible turbine (ST) pumps. The scope of the rule includes pumps that range from 1 to 200 hp, pumps that have a minimum best efficiency flow rate of 25 gallons per minute and pumps with a high head limit of 459 feet at the best efficiency flow rate. As a result of the ASRAC negotiation, certain clean water pumps have been excluded including circulator pumps, dedicated purpose pool pumps, self-priming pumps, fire pumps, nuclear pumps, military pumps, sealless pumps and mixed and axial flow pumps.

Why were these pumps chosen as the first to fall under the DOE Energy Efficiency Rule?

The scope of the rulemaking was clean water pumps. The ASRAC negotiated scope is similar to previous European Union regulations. The pump types and size of pump included represent a majority of pumps used for clean water services, and the standard levels set meet the DOE’s requirements for impact on consumers, impact on manufacturers and national benefits.

Does the rule affect pump end users? If so, what steps should end users take for compliance?

The biggest effect this new rule will have on end users is simply that in 2020 the pumps available on the U.S. market will be more energy efficient. End users will not have to worry about compliance and can focus more on the performance of the system. Labeling that not only indicates compliance but also indicates energy savings will help the end user. The increased awareness around energy consumption, education on their pump system and the rating methods will help end users select the most efficient pump for their application.

End users should also start to have conversations with their utility about rebates or incentive programs. HI has already begun working with utilities and other organizations to develop prescriptive rebate programs, so end users should look for these programs in the marketplace in 2017.

What are some of the most effective design changes that manufacturers can implement to be compliant?

Design changes will certainly be one way manufacturers become compliant. Focusing on the pump, manufacturers will be evaluating their portfolio of hydraulics and will focus on redesigning the geometry of their impellers, casings and diffusors to optimize efficiency. Other factors can be considered such as internal running clearances, seal friction and improving surface finish of wetted materials. The DOE rating is inclusive of the pump, drive and controls, so depending on the application, it is possible to improve the rating by utilizing more efficient motor technologies or variable speed drives.

Is HI taking any specific steps to help pump manufacturers navigate the rule’s requirements?

We are doing this from several perspectives. The Pump Test Standard that the DOE references in its new standard is HI 40.6-2014 Methods for Rotodynamic Pump Efficiency Testing, so the path toward compliance really starts with HI. After that, HI’s Pump Test Lab Approval Program (PTLAP) is an additional step manufacturers can take to demonstrate that their testing is done to the standard, and their performance numbers are accurate.

HI is developing a three-part training series that covers the background, history and overview of the DOE rule, the HI 40.6 test procedure and the DOE performance metrics, and how to carry out the various calculations. This will be an important training series that provides relevant content for all levels of involvement. HI anticipates launching this series in the second quarter of 2016.

Is this rule retroactive, or does it only affect new pumps produced after the deadline?

Beginning on Jan. 26, 2020, new pumps sold in the U.S. will need to comply. It is our understanding that aftermarket repaired products will not need to comply.

What else should end users and manufacturers know?

HI and our members have been very involved with this process for the last five years, so we have been expecting it. For end users, utilities and others, however, this rule is relatively new. They will need to get up to speed on the new regulation. HI will continue to educate the marketplace on the standards, but this could mean revisiting procurement processes or changing the way end users look at the total lifetime costs of a pump system. HI has pump system assessment programs that can help here as well.

When end users start to analyze the total cost of operating many pumping systems and compare that to the cost of reinvesting in new pumps, they may start to ask why have we waited.

HI is working on an Energy Rating Label to help end users not only calculate the amount of savings one pump configuration would have over another but can also be used for prescriptive rebates. HI is working on this with several utilities at the moment, so more will come on that.


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Michael Michaud is the executive director of HI, where he is responsible for its overall strategy and day-to-day operations. Prior to joining the company in 2015, he spent 19 years at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, where he led various activities including international growth, global strategy and training.



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Peter Gaydon is the director of technical affairs for HI. He  has held prior positions in design, development and test engineering with major pump manufactures. He has technical responsibility for all standards, guidebooks and program guides published by the the company.

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