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A

new gas compressor test and man-


ufacturing facility (Figure 1) is
currently under construction at the
manufacturing complex of Solar
Turbines Incorporated in San Diego,
California. The assembly building was
completed recently. The construction of
three test stands will be finished by
August 2008.
The new facility, which adds 10,000
sq. ft, would ensure that gas compressors
weighing up to 100 tons can be built and
undergo Pressure Test Code (PTC) - 10
Type 1 and Type 2 testing. This would
mean that the recently introduced C85
for the Titan 250, which weighs 90 tons
can be assembled and closed-loop tested.
A C33 compressor is currently being
used with the permanently installed Titan
130 for commissioning the facility.
Engineering scale ups
Before the 1990s, Solar Turbines com-
pressors were designed for multi-pur-
pose use. For example, the C50 gas com-
pressor was used in gas gathering and
other upstream applications, as well as
for pipeline gas transmission.
In the early 1990s, compressors were
designed specifically for pipelines or for
upstream production applications. While
pipeline compressors require pressure
boosting capability without requiring
high head, upstream compressors lay
stress on head through multiple stages.
The C40 pipeline compressor was the
first to be introduced and was soon fol-
lowed by the C65 in 1996. The C65 pos-
sesses isentropic efficiencies approach-
ing 90%. The C85, introduced last year,
is a direct scale up of the C65, and is
designed for direct-drive applications
with the Titan 250, the newest member
of Solars gas turbine family and rated at
30,000 hp (22,370 KW). The C40M line
of multi-stage compressors was intro-
duced in 1997.
The C51, released in 2004, was the
first higher-head compressor devel-
oped under the Advanced Research
Technology program, which incorpo-
rates advanced aerodynamic, finite ele-
ment and rotordynamic tools. More than
30 of these compressors have been
installed around the world in gas plant or
pipeline applications.
In addition to the C85, Solar Turbines
has developed a multi-stage compressor
for the Titan 250, identified as the C61.
The C61, a direct scale-up of the C51,
can also be driven by the Titan 130 and
Mars 100 gas turbines. It provides a
higher head per stage over a wider flow
range than the C51 (C61: 600 m
3
/min,
21,000 cfm vs 425 m
3
/min, 15,000 cfm
for the C51). The C85 and C61 are cur-
rently available to customers.
A dual-compartment, intercooled
version of the C51 has also been intro-
duced (Figure 2). The dual-compartment
configuration reduces the overall length
of the compressor train, but provides the
performance of two single-compartment
C51 compressors. The dual-compart-
ment C51 has a case rating of 3,000 psi
(20,685 kPag); and the single compart-
ment C51 now has two case ratings
2,250 (15,515 kPag) and 3,000 psi
(20,685 kPag).
The new compressor models required
investment in larger manufacturing facil-
ities. The 65-foot high building encloses
two bridge cranes that have a combined
lifting capacity of 125 tons. A fully
assembled C85 compressor weighs
approximately 90 tons.
New multistage compressor models,
including the dual compartment C51, are
longer than previous compressors.
Therefore, the new models require high-
er assembly bays to accommodate verti-
cal installation of the impellers and stator
module into the compressor housing,
when being assembled on Solars pro-
duction line.
A 100 ton tilt table (Figure 3) will be
used to safely rotate the large compres-
sor housings 90 to allow vertical instal-
lation of the module into the housing. A
100-ton transporter (Figure 4) has been
acquired for ease of handling. Using Six-
Sigma methodology and lean manufac-
turing concepts, the new building co-
locates tools, equipment, and appropriate
inventory levels, to provide a smooth
flow of compressor components from
cleaning and inspection processes
through assembly and test preparation.
Two of the three test bays are config-
ured for production and development test-
ing of individual gas compressors. The
third test bay is designed for string testing
POWER GENERATION
FACILITATING BIGGER MODELS
34 Turbomachinery International July/August 2008 www.turbomachinerymag.com
SOLAR TURBINES NEW ASSEMBLY AND TESTING FACILITY TARGETS A NEW
GENERATION OF COMPRESSORS
Figure 1: The new manufacturing and test
facility in San Diego, CA
Figure 2: C51 dual compartment compressors
of complete compressor packages.
For testing individual compressors,
each of the two test bays contains their
own permanently installed turbine engine
driver/test skid. The frst bay has a Mars
100 gas turbine rated at 16,000 hp (11, 930
kW). The second bay contains a Titan 130
gas turbine providing up to 20,000 hp
(15,290 kW) for compressor testing.
Each Solar-designed skid can test
compressors ranging in size from the
Solar C33 with its centerline height of 25
inches, to the C85 with its centerline
height of 60 inches. A set of gearboxes
have been designed for the skids that
allow compressor testing from 5,000 rpm
to 21,000 rpm. The fully instrumented
skids allow monitoring of aerodynamic
performance, rotor dynamic behavior,
and bearing and seal performance. Each
skid can perform open-air and closed-
loop pressurized tests. Open-air testing,
which draws ambient air into the com-
pressor, is performed to check head and
fow, and to verify the mechanical
integrity of the gas compressor.
Closed-loop tests are performed
using closed-loop piping arrangements
and heat exchangers permanently
installed in each test bay. They are used
to conduct ASME PTC 10 Type 1 and
Type 2 tests. Test gases available include
nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and natural gas
with provisions to use special blended
gas mixtures. With an initial pressure rat-
ing to 3,000 psig, (20,685 kPag), closed-
loop testing for development or as part of
a customers order, can verify compres-
sor efciency, as well as demonstrate sta-
ble rotor dynamic operation at feld oper-
ating conditions.
The third test bay will be used exclu-
sively for package string tests. Similar to
the other two test bays, ASME PTC 10
Type 1 and Type 2 tests can be performed
on multi-body compressor packages up
to 36,000 hp, (26,860 kW). These types
of tests verify the operation of the entire
compressor package, under full load
conditions, before shipment.
Motor-driven units
Meanwhile, Solar Turbines is also ofer-
ing compressors driven by Electric
Motor Drives (EMDs). While gas tur-
bines ofer wide turndown and operating
range, electric drives are suitable where
there is cheap power and constraints on
emissions. These compressors have been
in operation for over several years, most-
ly in land-based installations in North
America and Europe. The compressor is
tested in the factory, as are the motor and
Variable Frequency Drive. A feld perfor-
mance test is ofered at site.
TI
July/August 2008 Turbomachinery International 35 www.turbomachinerymag.com
Figures 3, 4: A 100-ton tilt table (left) and a 100-ton transporter (right)