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Process Engineering Manual

Process Engineering Manual

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Published by: Sean Middleton on Feb 18, 2013
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1.1 Introduction

To enable the procurement of a pump, it is necessary to convey to the vendor all pertinent
process information. This process information is conveyed to the Specialist/Mechanical
group of TPPL in the form of Process group's standard Pump Data Sheet. Based on this
information, the Mechanical group prepares the pump specification sheet to be sent to the
vendors. The pump calculation sheet helps the process engineer in assembling the required
data in the pump data sheet. Following guidelines should be used in preparing pump data

1.2 Types of Pumps

Pumps generally used in process industries are of centrifugal, reciprocating (piston, plunger
or diaphgram type) or rotary (gear, screw, lobe or others) types. A proper selection of the
type of pump to be used in a particular service has to be made.

1.3 Selection of Pump Type

Except for special purpose pumps for specific services, most of the process pumps are
made in standard sizes, and hence, the main problem is to select the size and type that most
nearly fits the service in question. Though the final selection of the pump will be made
close cooperation between the vendor and the Mechanical group, a preliminary selection of
the type of pump required is made by the process engineer. Selection of thc pump type can
be made on the basis of capacity-head requirements or fluid properties e.g. viscosity, solid
content and corrosive or erosive nature. Use Figure 1.1 for pump type selection based on
head-capacity requirements.

Centrifugal type pumps will handle liquids having viscosity up to about 200 cst. For higher
viscosities, specify screw, gear or reciprocating types. If solids are present in the stream to
be handled, the choice of pumps is further restricted. When solids are present, all internal
passages should have adequate dimensions. If solids are abrasive, close internal tolerances
between stationary and moving parts are undesirable. Generally, centrifugal type pump
(especially open impeller type) is the choice for handling liquids present in them.

1.4 Fluid Properties

Properties of the fluid to be pumped require careful attention of the process engineer. The
process engineer should give all the pertinent information asked for in the process data
sheet regarding the fluid characteristics. When solids or abrasive material are present,
specify the amount and size of particles. Similarly, if corrosive and toxic materials are
involved, specify the exact nature and concentration. Specify the pour point, congealing
point etc. accurately to determine the type of seal flush arrangement and any special
jacketing or heating arrangement required.

1.5 Suction Conditions and NPSH

Improper suction conditions are the largest source of pump troubles. Careful attention
should be given to NPSH (Net positive suction head). NPSH is the net remaining pressure
at the suction flange of the pump after all negative forces that restrict liquid from getting
into the pump are subtracted from all the positive forces that assist liquid in getting into the
pump. Two terms of NPSH are referred to:

= Net Positive Suction Head available in the system expressed as meters of

= Net Positive Suction Head required by the pump expressed as meters of

Calculate NPSHA in the system as follows:

NPSHA = Terminal Pressure in the Vessel + Height of Fluid above Pump Centre Line
(see note) + Atmospheric Pressure – (Vapour Pressure of Liquid + Friction
Loss in Suction Piping up to Pump Centre Line + Entrance and Exit Losses
From Vessel + Loss in Suction Filter + Loss in Control Vale, Exhaner etc.,
if any)
Note :
1. The height of liquid in the vessel should be taken to be at the vessel bottom
tangent line.
2. Pump centre line should be considered at 3/4 meter above the ground level.

Calculate NPSH
carefully considering all conditions i.e. start-up, original fill of lines,
winter operation, all control valve pressure drops, summer operation, piping conditions,
exit and entrance losses. Provide NPSH
at 1 meter over worse conceived NPSH
by the manufacturer. In general, NPSH
of pumps should be considered as 3.0 meters,
though the exact requirement will be specified by the pump manufacturer. In case of
submersible pumps, the available submergence should be specified.

NPSH is a function of flow. It should, therfore, always be determined at design capacity
regardless of the total head required. It. is not uncommon for NPSH
curve to turn upward
at low flows. Low flow effects can often be amplified by selecting too large a pump which
forces recirculation within the pump.

When liquids at their bubble points are pumped from closed vessels, NPSH
is only the
static liquid head above the pump centre minus the friction losses in the suction piping. In
such cases, it is usual to elevate the vessels suitably (or sometimes cool the liquid before it
enters the pump) to get a margin of NPSH
over NPSH
. Sometimes, booster pumps (low
head, high capacity pumps which require low NPSH) are used ahead of main line pumps to
improve the NPSH
for the main pump which has high capacity high head requirements.

1.6 Pumping Capacity

Proper care should be taken in establishing the rated capacity of the pump. Normal flow
rate required by the process to be pumped should be estimated. A margin over this normal
should be added to take care against pump runout, internal leakage/ slippage in the pump
and contingencies. Following guidelines should be useful for specifying the capacity:

Type of Pump % margin to be added to normal flow
3. Single stage
4. Multi stage

Reciprocating 20
Rotary 25

Pumps should not be oversized beyond the above recommended margins. Operating at
reduced capacities can result in increased bearing loads, reduction in pump efficiency and
sometimes increased NPSH requirement. When a future capacity increase in anticipated,
find out whether it can be accommodated by adding one more pump in future or using a
new wide impeller instead of specifying the pump for the future requirements and running
it at reduced flows now.

1.7 Discharge Conditions

The suction pressure and discharge pressure at the pump suction and discharge flanges
respectively should be estimated by drawing the system sketch in the pump calculation
sheet. All pressure drops in the system should be considered for various conditions – start
up, shutdown, fouled condition of piping/ equipment, start of run, end of run etc. The
difference between the discharge pressure and suction pressure so calculated is the
differential pressure or differential head when expressed in meters of liquid. The
differential head required for different conditions should be estimated and specified in the
pump process datasheet after taking about 10% margin over the normal differential head

A centrifugal pump will not produce a higher pressure than its shut-off pressure even if the
discharge line is completely blocked. On the average, shut-off pressure is the maximum
suction pressure plus 1.2 times the differential pressure depending on the characteristic
curve of the pump. To avoid changes in the design at a later stage, the pump shut-off
pressure should be considered as maximum suction pressure plus 1.25 times the differential
pressure. All downstream equipment in the system e.g. piping, valves, exchangers, vessels
etc. should be designed for this shut-off pressure. During detailed engineering, this shut-off
pressure should be checked against the actual shut-off pressure specified by the vendor.

1.8 No. of Pumps and Sparing Philosophy

1.8.1 Pumps in Regular Use

Normally, only one pump is provided for regular use. In some cases, however, when
pumping capacities are very large and a single pump is not available, more than one
operating pump may be specified. Where substantial future capacity has to be catered for, it
is advisable to put additional pump in future (for which space should be kept in the system)
than to oversize the present pump.

1.8.2 Sparing Philosophy

A combination of factors including desired process reliability, service factor, service
factor, operating conditions, customers maintenance philosophy and cost etc. should be
considered to establish pump sparing philosophy. In general, 100% spare should be
provided for essential services and hot (above 200°C), high pressure, dirty, clogging and
polymerising service. For clean fluids and non-essential services, 50% spares can be
specified. If more than two pumps are running in parallel for the same service, a common
standby pump can be specified. Sometimes a common spare can be provided for two
compatible services.

Following criteria can be used for identifying the various service conditions :

• •• • Essential Services
∼ ∼∼ ∼ Furnace and reactor charge pumps
∼ ∼∼ ∼ Product and reflux pumps

• •• • Non-essential Services
∼ ∼∼ ∼ Product transfer pumps
∼ ∼∼ ∼ Chemical and additive injection pumps
∼ ∼∼ ∼ Product blending and circulation pumps

• •• • Dirty/Clogging Services
∼ ∼∼ ∼ Pump feeding from tank bottoms
∼ ∼∼ ∼ Pumps taking suction from tower
∼ ∼∼ ∼ Bottoms slurry service

• •• • Pump Reliability
∼ ∼∼ ∼ Pumps having mechanical seals are generally more reliable than pumps with
stuffing boxes.
∼ ∼∼ ∼ Rotary and positive displacement pumps are less reliable than centrifugal

1.8.3 Warm-up Connection for Standby Pumps

Standby pumps under hot services (temperature above 150°C) should be always kept
heated up by providing a warm-up connection. Refer to Chapter 7 of Volume-IV of the
Process Engineering Manual titled P&ID Development for typical sketches of these warm-
up connections.

1.8.4 Pumps Running in Parallel

If two identical pumps are simultaneously working in parallel, they will deliver the sum of
the capacities to the same total head. The reasons for parallel pump operation can be:

1. Economy - two pumps and one standby can be more economical than one larger pump
and a standby

2. Two or three flow rates

3. Flow rates too large for a single pump to handle

Some cooling water and fire water pumps are typical examples.

1.9 Characteristic Curves of Centrifugal Pumps

Figure 1.2 is a typical characteristic curve of a centrifugal pump. The nature of head
capacity curve, efficiency and NPSH curves can be different depending upon the type of
pump. For a given system, the head-capacity curve of the system is superimposed on the
head-capacity curve of the pump and the point of intersection of the two curves is the duty
point at which the pump will operate at its best efficiency. The system head curve is a
function of the system static head and pressure head which are constant and the friction
head which varies with the flow.

Pump vendors will supply the characteristic curve for each pump. Following points should
be considered while finally accepting the pump:

• The slope of the head capacity curve should not be too steep if the pump delivers into a
distribution system, since a small change in flow will cause a large change in delivery
• The slope should not be too flat if the pump capacity is to be controlled by throttling
discharge (manually or by a control valve).
• When pumps are to run in parallel, the head-capacity curve should be stable i.e. a curve
with the head constantly increasing as one approaches zero capacity. A dropping type
curve (where the shut-off head is less than the maximum head) gives an unstable
operation. This requirement is also valid for all pumps within battery limits having
• Manufacturers supply characteristic curves of pumps based on water as test fluid used in
the testing shop. While handling viscous fluids in actual practice, certain corrections
need to be made for viscosity to get the actual head, capacity and efficiency. Use Figure
1.3 for correction charts for pumping viscous fluids.

1.10 Choice of Driver

Electric motor is by far the most common drive for pumps in the process industry.
Occasionally, special considerations such as reliability of power, safety considerations and
criticality of service require turbine drives to be used. Sometimes, the plant utility balance
makes turbine drives necessary on large pumps. Steam turbines are effective for standby
pumps for a few larger, vital pumps such as charge pumps, cooling water pumps, unit
pump out pumps or flushing out pumps. These considerations have to be firmed up during
the design basis stage.

Steam turbines can be condensing or non-condensing type. The choice of non-condensing
or condensing operation is affected by the demand for the exhaust steam. Generally, pump
drives are not made condensing type without a rigorous review as the increased complexity
or condensing is rarely worth the small savings achieved in the utilities.

In some cases like offshore platforms, oil and gas processing terminals etc., gas turbines are
used as drivers for large pumps.

1.11 Utilities for Pumps

All pumps will need some utilities – electrical power for motor driven pumps ; steam for
steam-turbine driven pumps; cooling water for condensers of steam turbines; cooling water
for bearings, casing pedestals and packing; steam for seal quench, jacketing etc. Though
the exact requirements of different utilities needed by a pump will be specified by the pump
vendor, it is essential for a process engineer to have a fairly good idea about these
requirements so that they can be included in the utility summary sheet of the plant. These
requirements can later be firmed up after getting the vendor information. Following
guidelines can be used for estimating utilities required by the pump.

1.11.1 Power for Pump Driver

Compute the power consumption for the pump as shown in the pump calculation sheet.
Refer Figures 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6 for efficiencies of different types of pumps and Table 1.1 for
motor efficiencies. Take 120% of the power so computed for utility estimation.
1.11.2 Steam for Turbines

Steam requirements of a steam turbine can be estimated by using Figures 1.7 and 1.8.
Following instructions apply for the use of these figures.
1. Compute the delivered horse power (BHP) as shown in the pump calculation sheet.
2. Determine turbine efficiency from table below :
KW Overall Efficiency %
150 35
From 151 – 500 45
From 501 – 2000 55
From 2001 – 6000 65
Above 6000 70

3. Determine steam rate from Figures 1.7 and 1.8.
Table 1.1 : Electric Motors – Recommended Sizes and Efficiencies
Pump Requirement at
Design Conditions
Probable Motor
Motor Efficiency @ % of Full
0 – 0.5 1 81 82 82.5
0.51 - 0.75 1.5 67 73 75
0.75 – 1.00 2 75 78 80
1.01 – 2.00 3 75 79 80
2.01 – 4.00 5 81 83 84
4.01 – 6.00 7.5 75 80 81.5
6.01 – 8.00 10 80 84 85
8.01 – 12.0 15 81 85 86.5
12.1 – 16.0 20 80 83 86
16.1 – 20.0 25 83 86.5 88
20.1 – 26.1 30 83 86.5 88.5
26.2 – 34.8 40 85 88 88.5
34.9 – 43.5 50 80 85 87.5
43.6 – 52.2 60 84 88 89.5
52.3 – 65.2 75 87 89.5 90.5
65.3 – 87.0 100 84 89 91
87.1 – 114 125 85 89.5 91.5
115 – 136 150 86 89 91
137 – 182 200 88 91 92.5
183 – 227 250 90 92.5 93.5
228 – 273 300 90.5 93 94
274 – 318 350 91 93 94
319 – 364 400 91 93 93
365 – 409 450 91 93 93
410 – 455 500 91.5 93 93.5
456 – 545 600 93 94 94.5
Note : This table applies to totally enclosed motors (i.e. explosion proof)

• For non-condensing turbines and inlet steam pressure up to 18.5 kg/cm
a use Figure 1.7.
For all condensing turbines and non-condensing turbines with inlet system pressure up
to 43.5 kg/cm
a, use Figure 1.8.
• Determine heat theoretically available from saturated steam of the anticipated inlet and
exhaust pressure from graph 1 of Figure 1.7.
• Correct heat available for unsaturation or superheat as indicated on the figures.
• Determine steam rate from efficiency and heat available by use of graph 2 of Figure 1.7.
• Estimate steam requirements by multiplying the brake horse power and the steam rate
calculated from Figures 1.7 and 1.8.

1.11.3 Cooling Water Pumps

Cooling water may be required for a pump for cooling its bearing, pedestral, gland packing,
etc. This water can be fresh raw water, circulating cooling water or sea water. Generally,
the water after cooling the various parts of the pumps is routed to drain. Use the following
general guidelines for estimating water requirement for pump cooling :

Up to 120°C 0.5 m
Up to 250°C 1.5 m
Above 250°C 2.0 m3/hr

Some minor leakage of oil from the pump can be expected which will also be routed to
drain along with the above water. Take about 200 ppm of oil content in the outlet water to
drain for the purpose of effluent summary of the plant.

1.11.4 Steam for Quenching and Jacketing

Pumps handling high pour point products like Bitumen, LSHS, DMT, Phthalic Anhydride
and other such products are often steam jacketed. Specify steam conditions available in the
datasheet. The approximate requirement of steam for each such pump may be taken as 200

1.12 Pump Sealing System

Process data sheets for pumps should indicate the type of sealing to be provided. Use the
following guidelines for selection of type of sealing:

Service Type of Sealing External Flushing
Clean hydrocarbons and non-corrosive
chemicals which will not solidify at
ambient conditions at temperatures upto
300°C and pressure upto 40 kg/cm
Single Mechanical

Clean liquids which will solidify at
ambient conditions, temperature upto
300°C and pressures upto 40 kg/cm2a.
Single Mechanical

Very corrosive, dirty or high pressure
Double Mechanical

Slurries Packed Box Not Applicable

Water clean hydrocarbons, non-corrosive
chemicals at moderate pressures
Packed Box Not Applicable

Pumps taking suction from pumps where
leakage can be redirected to the sumps
Packed Box Not Applicable

Typical mechanical seal arrangements for centrifugal pumps are shown in Figure 1.9.
Where external seal flushing is required, the process engineer should make suitable
provision to supply the flush liquid. API-610 provides recommendations on the seal
flushing plan for centrifugal pumps for different services (refer Figures 1.10 and 1.11)

The bubble temperature of the external flush fluid should be about 10°C higher than the
maximum operating temperature at operating pressure to avoid vapourisation of the fluid
and consequent vapour locking.

1.13 Material of Construction

In the petroleum and petrochemical industries, the selection of material of construction of a
pump is usually dictated by considerations of corrosion, erosion, personal safety and liquid
contamination. Tables 1.2 and 1.3 based on the recommendations of API-610 can serve as a
useful guide to the process engineer for selection of material of construction of pumps.
Obtain the recommendations of Specialist/ Mechanical group to verify these materials of
construction and specify these recommendations in the process data sheets.

Table 1.2: Material Class and Material Class Abbreviation
Table 1.3 : Material Recommendations for Different Services
Range (°F)
Fresh water, condensate, cooling-tower water <212 I-1 or I-2
<250 I-1 or I-2 4
250 – 350 S-5 4 Boiling water and process water
> 350 C-6 4

>200 C-6
Boiler feed water
- Axially split
- Double casing (barrel) >200 S-6
Boiler circulator >200 C-6
Foul water, reflux drum water, water draw and hydrocarbons
containing these waters, including reflux streams
S-3 or S-6
Propane, butane, liquefied petroleum gas and ammonia (NH
) <450 S-1
Diesel oil; gasoline; naphtha; kerosene; gas oils; light,
medium, and heavy lube oils; fuel oil; residuum; crude oil;
asphalt; synthetic crude bottoms

Noncorrosive hydrocarbons, e.g. catalytic reformate,
isomaxate, desulfurized oils
450-700 S-4 6
Xylene, toluene, acetone, benzene, furfural, MEK, cumene <450 S-1
Sodium carbonate, doctor solution <350 I-1
Caustic (sodium hydroxide), concentration of ≤ 20% <210
S-1 7
Seawater <200 9
MEA, DEA, TEA – stock solutions <250 S-1
DEA, TEA – lean solutions <250 S-1 7
MEA – lean solution (CO
only) 175-300 S-9 7
MEA – lean solution (CO
and H
S) 175-300 7,10
MEA, DEA, TEA – rich solutions <175 S-1 7
Sulfuric acid concentration
85% <100 S-1 5
85% - 15% <100 A-8 5
15% - 1% <100 A-8 5
1% <450 A-8 5
Hydrofluoric acid concentration of >96% <100 S-9 5
Notes :
1. Separate materials recommendations should be obtained for services not clearly identified by the service
descriptions listed in this table.
2. Cast iron casings, where recommended for chemical services are for nonhazardous locations only. Steel
casing (S-1 or I-I) should be used for pumps in services location near process plants or in any location
where released valeased vapour for a failure could create a hazardous situation or where pumps could be
subjected to hydraulic shock, for example, in loading services.
3. Mechanical seal materials, for streams containing chlorides, all springs and other metal parts should be
Alloys 20 or better. Buna-N and Neoprene should not be used in any service containing aromatics. Viton
should not be used in services containing aromatics above 200°F.
4. Oxygen content and buffering of water should be considered in the selection of material.
5. The corrosiveness of foul waters, hydrocarbons over 450°F, acids, and acid sludges may very widely. A
material recommendation should be obtained for each service. The material class indicated above will be
satisfactory for many of these services but must be verified.
6. If product corrosivity is low, Class S-4 materials may be used for services at 451-700°F. A separate
materials recommendation should be obtained in each instance.
7. For temperatures greater then or equal to 160°F, all welds should be stress relieved.
8. Alloy 20 or Monel pump material and double mechanical seals should be used with a pressurized seal oil
9. For seawater services, the purchaser and the vendor should be agree on the construction materials the
best suit the intended use.
10. Class A-7 material should be used, except for carbon steel casings.


2.1 General

To enable the procurement of a compressor, it is necessary to convey to the vendors all
pertinent process information. This process information is conveyed to the Specialist/
Mechanical group of the company in the form of process groups standard "Compressor
Data Sheet". Based on this information, the Specialist/Mechanical group prepares the
compressor specification sheet to be sent to the vendors. Following guidelines should help
the process engineer to prepare process data sheets for compressors.

2.2 Type of Compressors

Compressors generally used in the process industry can be classified as positive
displacement, dynamic or thermal types as shown in Figure 2.1.

2.2.1 Positive Displacement Type Compressors

Positive displacement type compressors compress a constant volume of fluid in each stroke
or rotation. They include reciprocating, rotary and diaphragm compressors.

Reciprocating compressors are the oldest and still the most widely used type of
compressors. They consist of one or more cylinders each with a piston or plunger that
moves back and forth, displacing a positive volume with each stroke. They are available
from less than 1 hp to more than 3000 hp and for pressures ranging from below
atmospheric to 50,000 psig (about 3520 kg/cm2a ). They run at speeds from 150 rpm to
1000 rpm. Overall efficiency of reciprocating compressors range from 75-80%. Vacuum
pumps are a variation of the reciprocating compressor. Suction pressure of0.5 to 1.5 inches
of mercury absolute are quite common. Vacuum pumps are characterised by high
compression ratio.

Diaphragm compressors use a hydraulically pulsed flexible diaphragm to displace the

Rotary compressors cover lobe-type, screw type, vane type and liquid ring type, each
having a casing with one or more rotating elements that either mesh with each other such as
lobes or screws, or that displace a fixed volume with each rotation. The screw type is
probably the most important for general refinery and petrochemical plant application.
Screw compressors run at speeds from 2000 to 15000 rpm. These compressors can operate
on relatively dirty gases and are by nature nonlubricated. Efficiency is somewhat lower
than those for comparable reciprocating compressors.

Figure 2.1 Types of Compressors
2.2.2 Dynamic Type Compressors

Dynamic type compressors include radial-flow (centrifugal), axial-flow and mixed flow
machines. They are rotary continuous-flow compressors in which the rotating element
(impeller or bladed rotor) accelerates the fluid as it passes through the element, converting
the velocity head into static pressure, partially in the rotating element and partially in
stationary diffusers or blades.

Centrifugal compressors have variable head-capacity characteristics. These are used for
handling large volume of gas at relatively intermediate discharge pressures. These
compressors are simple, require less maintenance and have longer reliability factors.Axial
compressors are somewhat similar to centrifugal compressors, but instead of having
impellers moving inside diffusers, they consist of a series of stator and rotory blades. These
are used for handling very large flows at relatively low heads. Generally, they do not have
a stable operating range over as wide a capacity and are therefore, considered less versatile.

2.2.3 Thermal Type Compressors

Ejectors are “thermal” compressors that use a high velocity gas or steam jet to entrain the
inflowing fluid, then convert the velocity of the mixture to pressure in a diffuser.

2.3 Selection of Compressor Type

Though the final selection of the compressor for a specific requirement will be done by
close cooperation of the vendor and the Specialist/Mechanical group, a preliminary
selection of the type of compressor required is made by the process engineer based on his
process needs. Figure 2.2 should be used for the general range of application of the various
compressor types.

Figure 2.2: General Range of Application of Various Compressor Types

The main differences between reciprocating and centrifugal compressors (the two most
commonly used type of compressors) are summarised in Figure 2.3.

Figure 2.3: Comparison of Reciprocating and Centrifugal Compressors

2.4 Fluid Properties

All the properties of fluid to be compressed should be clearly specified in the process
datasheet of the compressor. The composition of the fluid, moisture content, molecular
weight, ratio of specific heats (K = C
), critical temperature and pressure and the
compressibility factor (Z) should be known. Volume I of the Process Engineering Manual
titled Process Databook can be used for properties for pure gases. The GPSA Databook
can be used to supplement the Process Databook. In case of mixed gas, calculate the
properties of the mixture by using the following guidelines. Further, any impurities like
solid particles, polymers, corrosive and erosive elements in the gas should be clearly
2.4.1 Adiabatic Exponent (K = Cp/Cv)
To calculate K, the adiabatic exponent i.e. the ratio of specific heats (Cp/Cv) of a gas
mixture, first calculate MC
for the mixture based on mole fractions of individual
( ) ( )
i P
mix P
MC yi MC



The advantages of a centrifugal compressor over a reciprocating machine
are :
a. Lower installed first, cost where pressure and volume conditions are favourable.
b. Lower maintenance expense.
c. Greater continuity of service and dependability.
d. Less operating attention.
e. Greater volume capacity per unit of plot area.
f. Adaptability to high-speed-low-maintenance-cost drivers.

The advantages of a reciprocating compressor over a centrifugal machine
are :
a. Greater flexibility in capacity and pressure range.
b. Higher compressor efficiency and lower power cost.
c. Capability of delivering higher pressures.
d. Capability of handling smaller volumes.
e. Less sensitive to changes in gas composition and density.
where n is the total number of components in the mixture, yi is the mole fraction of the i

component and (MC
)i is the molar heat capacity of the i
component. The adiabatic
exponent is then calculated as below:
( )
( ) R MC
mix P
mix P

If MCp is in Btu/ibmol °R or kcal/kgmol °C, the value of R is 1.986. Refer to Figure 2.4 for
molar heat capacities of individual hydrocarbons. Since the heat capacities vary
considerably with temperature, K is normally determined at the average of suction and
discharge temperatures. Aproximate adiabatic exponents for hydrocarbon gases based on
average molecular weights are given in Figure 2.5.

2.4.2 Average Compressibility Factor (Zavg)

Compressibility factors, which modify the ideal gas law are important primarily for
multistage reciprocating and centrifugal compressors where volumes must be calculated for
each succeeding stage. For perfect gases like H
, N
, air etc., compressibility factor is 1.0.
Calculate average compressibility factor of non-ideal gas/gas mixture as below:

2 1

= Compressibility factor at suction conditions
Z2 = Compressibility factor at discharge conditions
Use the following for calculating the discharge temperature T
based on the suction
temperature T
and the suction and discharge pressures (P
and P
) :

Figure 2.4: Molar Heat Capacities
Figure 2.5: Approximate Adiabatic Exponents for Hydrocarbon Gases

1 K


Charts given in section 7.8 of the Process Databook can be used for calculating
compressibility factors for hydrocarbon gases of different molecular weights.

2.4.3 Composition of gas

The composition of gas to be compressed should be known and the same is to be indicated
in the data sheet of the compressor. In case of a mixture of gases, give the composition of
the individual constituents of the mixture and the molecular weight of the mixture. Also
specify the water content in the gas, if any. Moisture content is very important because
when gases are compressed, their ability to hold water or other potential condensates
decreases at a given temperature and provision must be made for separating the condensed
material between different stages of compression. For air compressors, the inlet relative
humidity is required from which the amount of water present in the air can be determined.

2.4.4 Compressor Capacity

The normal flow rate required by the process should be estimated in kg/hr.

2.5 Compressor Calculations

A process engineer is required to make certain basic thermodynamic calculations for
estimating the head and horsepower requirements so that he can make a preliminary
assessment of the various utilities needed by the compressor (as described in section 2.10).
The amount of work required in compressing a gas is dependent on the polytropic curve
involved and increases with increasing values of N. Refer Figure 2.6. The path requiring
the least amount of work is N = 1 which is equivalent to isothermal compression. For
adiabatic (isentropic) compression, N is equal to the Adiabatic Exponent (K). It is usually
impractical to build a isothermal machine. Most machines tend to operate along a
polytropic path which approaches the isentropic. Most compressor calculations are
therefore based on an efficiency applied to account for true behaviour. Certain type of

Figure 2.6: Polytropic Compression Curves
compressors, like reciprocating and single stage centrifugal, follow an adiabatic
compression cycle while others like multistage centrifugal, follow a polytropic
compression cycle. The following equations are useful. The legend for the various symbols
used is given at the end of this section.

2.5.1 Adiabatic Compression

(a) Adiabatic Head:







1 K
1 K
2 1

(b) Adiabatic Gas Horse Power :

Adiabatic efficiency (η
) can be taken as 65-70% for most of the cases for preliminary

(c) Adiabatic Discharge Temperature :

1 K
1 ad 2
T ) T (



2.5.2 Polytropic Compression

(a) Polytropic Head :






1 N
1 N
2 1

(b) Polytropic Gas Horse Power :

Polytropic efficiency (η
) can be taken as 70-75% for most of the cases for preliminary

(c) Polytropic Discharge Temperature :
1 N
1 poly 2
T ) T (



2.5.3 Relationship of Polytropic and adiabatic Exponents

The value of quantity N in polytropic relations is found as :





1 K
1 N


Legend of symbols used
HP = Gas Horse Power
H = Head, ft lb/lb
= Compressibility Factor
M = Molecular Weight of gas
T = Temperature of gas in °R
K = Ratio of specific heats Cp/Cv, adiabatic exponent
N = Polytropic exponent
W = Weight flow, lb/min
η = Compression Efficiency

ad = Adiabatic Compression
poly = Polytropic Compression
1 = At suction of compressor
2 = At discharge of compressor

2.6 Compression Ratio

Compression ratio of any stage of a compressor is the ratio of absolute pressure at the
discharge of that stage to the absolute pressure at the suction of that stage. It is normal
practice to balance the cmpression stages so that each stage is designed for approximately
the same compression ratio. This is done partly for economic reason but also to limit
maximum interstage discharge temperatures. For example, discharge temperatures in
lubricated reciprocating type air compressors are limited to 160°C to avoid the potential
danger of fires from a reaction of oxygen with hot oil. In general, it is not advisable to use a
single stage compressor for compression ratio above 3.5 at relatively low pressures. For
suction pressures above 70 kg/cm
a, a compression ratio of not more than 2.5 per stage
should be considered. When multistage compressors are involved, care should be taken to
provide means for routing the interstage condensate to some appropriate location in the
process flow scheme.

2.7 Compressor Capacity

A process engineer will usually indicate his requirement of flow in the process data sheet
expressed as kg/hr. In case of recycle streams, the material balance of various recycle
streams should be indicated in the process data sheet by making a system sketch. In case
inlet flow in volumetric units is required, the following expression can be used :

W * 1 V Q
1 1
P 144
V =

Q = inlet flow ft
W = Weighted flow lb/min
= Compressibility factor at suction temp.
R = Gas constant (1544/Mol. wt.)
= Suction Temperature °R
= Suction Pressure psia
2.8 Choice of Driver
Electric motors, stream turbines and in some cases gas turbines and oil/gas engines are used
to supply motive power to compressors. The selection of a particular drive is a function of
utilities available, cost and preference of owners. These alternate choices should be
reviewed at the stage of fixing up the design basis.

2.8.1 Reciprocating Compressors

In case of reciprocating compressors, oil/gas engine drives have certain advantages in cases
where gas or oil is in abundance and no other power supply is conveniently available. This
might be the case in oil or gas field installations or for pipeline pumping and compression
units. Direct steam engine drive is also used frequently for reciprocating compressors. It
should be recognised, however, that waste steam or condensate from such units contains oil
and cannot be directly returned to a condensate system. Steam or gas turbines are not very
common drives for reciprocating compressors. If used, care must be taken to provide speed
reducing gears, flywheels, torsional couplings etc. Electric motors are used quite frequently
as drives for reciprocating compressors in the process plants. Motors for big compressors
are generally synchronous type, whereas small compressors may use a V-bolt drive, gear
reducer or direct valve with an induction motor.

2.8.2 Centrifugal Compressors

Electric motors, steam turbines and in some case, gas turbines are used to supply motive
power to centrifugal compressors. Since these compressors generally operate well above
3600 rpm, speed-increasing gears are employed with motor drives. Steam turbines can
either be condensing, non-condensing or extraction type, depending on such matters as
steam cost and need for process steam at different pressure levels.

Gas turbines may be used to supply power to large (5000-7000 hp) centrifugal
compressors, for instance in ethylene plants, offshore gas compression units, etc.

2.9 Number of Compressors and Sparing Philosophy

Generally, the reliability factor for reciprocating machines vary from 95% to 98% and for
centrifugal machines from 99.5% to 100%. If the client has no particular preference,
following criteria (based on economic considerations) can be used for selecting the number
of compressors. However, the actual number of spares will depend on the clients
philosophy on operation and maintenance.


Up to 100 KW One running (100%) + one standby

From 100 KW and above Min. of 33-50% as spare capacity

Since centrifugal compressors are of large size and have comparitively higher service
factor, it is not conventional to have a spare unit. Also, upto 15000 hp, it is conventional to
put in one full size machine rather than two 50% size machines with adequate spare parts
including a complete rotor to reduce the downtime of the machine.

2.10 Utilities for Compressors

All compressors need utilities like electric power, steam or gas for their drivers, cooling
water for condenser, jacket, bearing, intercooler, aftercooler and oil cooler etc., fuel gas and
starting air for gas turbines. Though the exact requirement of various utilities needed by a
compressor will be specified by the compressor vendor, it is essential for a process
engineer to have a fairly good idea about these requirements at the stage of process design
work so that these can be included in the overall utility summary sheet of the plant. These
requirements can later be firmed up after getting the vendor information. The process
engineer should indicate the utility conditions in the compressor process data sheet.
Following guidelines can be used for estimating utilities required by the compressor.

2.10.1 Power for Driver

Following steps are involved in estimating the electric power required by the compressor:
(a) Calculate the gas horse power of the compressor as given in section 2.5.
(b) Calculate the BHP of the compressor by dividing the gas horse power by the
mechanical efficiency. Take 95% as mechanical efficiency for centrifugal
compressors. Use following table for mechanical efficiencies for reciprocating

Total Compression Ratio Mechanical Efficiency
1.5 65
2 74
3 81
4 83
5 82
6 81
7 79

(c) Applying the overload capacity requirement of the compressor and the service factor
of electric motors, estimate the driver horse power as follows :
Power requirement of Motor = BHP / (0.9 x Motor efficiency)
Motor efficiencies can be taken as 95-98%

2.10.2 Steam Requirement for Turbines

(a) Reciprocating Compressors :
Steam requirement for the estimating BHP is calculated from Figure 1.7 and 1.8 given in
Chapter 1 for pumps.
(b) Centrifugal Compressors :
The turbine is specified to develop 120% of the BHP required at the design conditions. The
theoretical steam rate in kg/HP (hr) can be obtained from the expression
2 1
h h

where h
– h
is the enthalpy change of steam expressed in kcal/kg. Actual steam rate can
then be obtained by dividing the theoretical steam rate by the turbine adiabatic efficiency
which is given below:

BHP Adiabatic Efficiency
500 61
800 66
1000 67
1200 69
1500 70
2000 72
2500 73
3000 & above 74

2.10.3 Fuel Gas for Gas Engines and Turbines

Gas Engines
Use an average figure of 2400 kcal/BHP/hr. Estimate the fuel gas requirement based on
this figure and the calorific value of the fuel gas available for use. Gas engines can be run
at fuel rated power when burning any fuel gas having a heating value of 7100-23000
, but no more than 10 mole% butane. If it contains more than 10 mole% butane, the
engine must be derated by 10% i.e. a 500 hp engine will be suitable for 450 hp.

Gas Turbines

Use an average figure of 3000-3200 kcal/BHP/hr. Estimate the fuel gas requirement based
on this average figure and the calorific value (net) of the fuel gas available for use. Horse
power rating of gas turbines are based on 26.5°C combustion air temperature and 300 meter
altitude. They should be derated by 5% for every 5°C increase in air temperature.

2.10.4 Cooling Water Requirements

Different types of compressor and their drives require cooling water. Estimate the cooling
water as follows. Consider a 9°C rise in temperature of cooling water from inlet to outlet.

Compressor Type/ Drive Cooling Water
Type of Water

- Compressor Jacket 125 kcal/BHP/hr Treated
- Inlet Cooler 250 kcal/BHP/hr Treated
- Aftercooler 250 kcal/BHP/hr Treated
- Gas Engine Cylinder Jacket 1000 kcal/BHP/hr Closed System
Centrifugal Compressors
- Oil Cooler 20 m3/hr (min.) Treated

2.10.5 Cooling Water for Turbine Condenser
Cooling water is required for condensers of stem turbine driven compressors. Considering
that condenser will operate at 750 mm Hg, calculate the change in steam enthalpy from
intel steam conditions to the condenser conditions. From the steam rate found in section
2.10.2, find the total heat to be removed. Considering a temperature rise of 9
C in cooling
water inlet to outlet, estimate the cooling water requirements of the condenser.

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