ADB Airfield Solutions LED Taxiway Test Program at False River Airport


False River Airport has virtually eliminated its airfield lighting costs, by using a solar powered APS System from ADB Airfield Solutions.

ADB Airfield Solutions were approached by Allen Taylor, the manager for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development several years ago. He wanted to reduce the cost and wasted efforts of lights damaged by lawn mowers, snowplows, or other maintenance vehicles, by developing a low-profile fixture, which would meet all FAA specifications.

Taylor approached ADB with his idea, however solar powered LED fixtures were not on the radar. ADB presented to him a new power supply, which was developed specifically for LED fixtures and consumed up to 90% less energy. Due to the reduced energy consumption of these fixtures, solar power was proposed as a viable option.

Low Profile LED Lighting

Taylor was impressed by the energy savings which were provided by the APS System, as well as the potential for solar power that came with it, and as a result chose to have an APS/Solar LED Taxiway System put into the False River Regional Airport in New Roads, LA in order to test the concept and fixtures.

"False River is a well-maintained regional airport that I would say is one of the finest in the nation," Taylor goes on to say that "It has a full parallel taxiway system with conduit that was installed in 1997. We could phase in the implementation with minimal disruption to airport operations."

ADB Solar Powered ASP System

During the installation, airport crews removed the 30/45 W isolation transformer from each fixture can, and then used the existing wiring and connectors for the new APS LED in-pavement fixtures. Once installation was complete, the APS system was burned in for a month, in order to ensure everything was functioning properly whilst connected to commercial grid power.

Once tests were successfully completed, ADB and Carmanah Technologies Corporation, the leader in solar energy management, went on to implement the solar part of the projects, which went live in May 2010. With addition of solar power, the system went from 90% electrical consumption, to being completely independent of the electrical grid.

Energy from the sun is captured by a 10 panel solar array, which is installed near the electrical vault, powers the 1kW APS at False River. The energy is collected by the solar array, and then transferred to the charger, which regulates the amount of energy transferred in the battery bank in order to prevent overcharging.

Solar Powered APS System

Over night, the charger pulls energy from the battery system, and the puts it into an inverter located inside the vault, which converts the DC power into 220 VAC power used by the APS System, that sends out an alternating PWM current to the LED fixtures. The solar-powered system can operate for 3.5 days on full load, with a 50% depth of discharge on the batteries. The APS LED taxiway lights receive pulse width modulated current from the APS unit, which provides the desired light intensity.

According to Miguel Vasquez-Lavado, green technology product manager at ADB, "The new in-pavement LED lights don't need a 30/45 W isolation transformer at every fixture to regulate the amount of power coming into the fixture. We used the PWM concept to develop the advanced power supply, which provides the right type and amount of current the LED wants. By eliminating the requirement for power electronics on the fixtures themselves, we were able to bring simplicity to the system and bypass other components."

Part of the simplification included replacing the existing 15 kW regulator that was needed to run the quartz incandescent fixtures, with a 1 kW APS unit. Whilst each of the original incandescent taxiway fittings used 30 W to 45 W halogen lamps, had a lifespan of around 1,000 hours, the LED fixtures have a much greater lifespan of 100,000 to 200,000 hours, with much less energy requirements resulting in greatly reduced costs.

By using an APS System, False River Regional Airport has helped to dramatically reduce the taxiway's power consumption, from 7,425 W to 742 W of energy per day, resulting in a saving of 90% before the solar portion had been implemented. The reduction in energy consumption opened the door to the option of solar energy. It would have taken over 40 solar panels to provide enough energy to cover a 7,425 W load. The airport was also able to reduce costs by installing the new LED fixtures onto an existing circuit, as a result reusing existing base cans, cabling and connectors

"ADB developed an advanced power supply to deliver the right type of power at the right time, and connected a solar panel to it to provide power to the entire system, Vasquez-Lavado summarizes. "We developed a completely green system that saves money and lasts longer."

Future Plans for False River

The alternating PWM power system works so well that Taylor envisions further advancements in LED technology, which should allow airports to replace standard runway lighting systems with power saving LEDs. Currently he is carrying out side by side comparisons of one of the LED circuits, to the incandescent circuit, in order to determine airfield perception at night, between these fixtures. Low-profile L-861E runway edge lights were installed on the APS system, while the existing MIRL system remains in service 8 feet further out.

"We are interleaving the runway circuit in which every other runway fixture is powered by a separate power supply (APS) circuit to further increase reliability of an LED light system," Taylor explains. "That way, if the airport were to lose one power supply, pilots would still be able to discern the definition of a runway outline from the remaining powered circuit."

ADB have teamed up with Carmanah in order to create Integrated Solar LED Systems. These integrated products are different from standard solar products due to the fact they are a modified standard airfield lighting product that is accompanied by a Solar Engine Power Supply (SEPS), which incorporates the latest capabilities in solar technology, hardware and software, in order to provide power and control to the LED fixture. The partnership has developed solar systems for the standard following products;

  • LED Obstruction Lights
    Low Profile LED Light
  • LED Signs
  • LED Elevated Runway Guard Lights 
  • LED Wind Cones

Solar-Powered LED Lighting the Future

Vasquez-Lavado predicts that airports will eventually turn to solar-powered LED lighting to power signs and obstruction lights, noting "The way technology keeps advancing, we will see
more LED products being powered by solar technology, which can completely eliminate electrical grid expenses,"

"ADB has developed a good, robust piece of industrial quality equipment," Taylor says. "We haven't had a system failure since the solar-powered APS system was put in service in mid May. I am very happy with it."

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