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COMPRESSORS

Compressors are used to compress air or gas (compressible fluid), transforming


the mechanical energy of the prime mover into pressure energy with the aim to
move or transport gaseous fluid.
Compression is a polytropic process, that means the temperature is increased as
the pressure ratio is increased.
Compressor Classification
Compressor can be classified into two broad groups:
i)

Dynamic (or rotodynamics)


a)
Centrifugal (radial flow).
b)
Axial flow.

ii)

Positive displacement:
a)
Reciprocating.
b)
Rotary type.

i)

Dynamic
a)

Centrifugal Compressor: The main parts are the inlet nozzle, the
impeller, the diffuser, the volute and the driver.
The gas enters the compressor through the inlet nozzle to the
impeller. The vanes impulse the gas radially giving the gas a
velocity and dynamically compressing it. The diffuser surround the
impeller reduces the gas velocity converting the velocity energy to
high pressure level.
Maximum compression ratio is 3-4.5 per stage with maximum 8 -12
stages per machine.

b)

Axial Compressor: It has two or more rotating vanes. The flow is in


the axial direction.

ii)

Positive Displacement
a)

Reciprocating: Successive gas volumes are confined within a


closed space, compressed to a higher pressure and then released.

b)

Rotary type: Some of them are spiral screw, lobe type and sliding
vane.
In spiral screw, there are rotors, male and female. The gas is drawn
and compressed while forced to pass through the void between
rotors.

Compressor Selection
A compressor is selected based on the following factors:
i)
ii)
iii)
iv)
v)
vi)
vii)
viii)
ix)
x)

Duty cycle; (h/day) or continuous operation.


Gas handled and humidity.
Barometric pressure or altitude.
Intake pressure (and variation of the intake pressure).
Intake temperature.
Discharge pressure (and its variation).
Capacity required (and its variation).
Regulation required to control.
Ease of maintenance.
Capital cost.

Typical Operating Curve For Compressors


Typical operating curves of a centrifugal compressor are:
i)
ii)
iii)

Adiabatic Head & Power vs Intake Flow.


Discharge Pressure & Power vs Intake Flow.
Pressure Ratio & Power vs Intake Flow.

Surge
The surge limit is the flow below which the compressor operation is unstable.
Below the surge limit, the pressure developed is not sufficient to overcome the
system discharge pressure. This result in a noisy operation which is caused by a
periodic backflow through the compressor. The unstable operation can cause
mechanical damage.
To avoid surging, the compressor must always be operated above control limit.
Control limit is the control line for the minimum flow at 10% of the surge limit. If
the compressor flow decrease to surge, the surge interlock control will activate.
Surge interlock:
i)
ii)
iii)

Compressor by pass valves will fully opened.


Compressor inlet valve is at minimum opening.
Other system associated with the flow:
a)
Process gas heater: firing cut back.
b)
CO2 system capacity should be brought down.

Additional Operating Limit:


i)
ii)

Compressor discharge temperature is limited to 120 0C to prevent seal and


other damage.
Operating with higher molecular weight gas result in higher discharge
pressure, higher outlet temperature and higher amperage of electric
motor.

Compressor Balancing & Alignment


Balancing: is to balance the impeller Unbalance impeller cause vibration and may
damage the bearings, mechanical seals and the compressor itself.
Alignment: is to align the compressor shaft with drive shaft (either electric motor
or turbine) at the coupling. Compressor that is not properly aligned may vibrate
and damages the bearing, mechanical seal etc.
Safety Interlock
i)
ii)
iii)
iv)

Compressor shutdown if VSH is activated.


Compressor shutdown if sealing & lubrication fluid system is not running
Compressor shutdown if amperage of compressor too high (if MW of
gaseous increase).
Compressor shutdown if temperature of electric motor too high.

Operation of Centrifugal Compressor


1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)
9)

Communication with control room.


Check local switches at right position (off, manual or auto).
Check utility & power supply.
After cooler of the compressor must in service.
Lubrication system is working properly.
Sealing system is working properly.
Check foundation, bearing, motor condition, sight glass for water supply.
Hand turning (if can).
Valve setting: filter valves open, open suction at minimum opening and by
pass valve fully open.
Notes: min. opening: to reduce current usage during start up.

10)
11)
12)
13)
14)
15)

Pressure of the system should be low enough to reduce current


consumption during start up.
Open drain valves to remove liquid such as water from the compressor
system.
If possible, start the compressor locally 2 -3 seconds and check for correct
rotation, and any abnormal sound.
Start the pump normally (control room).
Check pump condition, leakage, sealing system, lubrication system,
temperature and vibration.
If everything is OK, start to increase the flow according to start up
schedule.

Normal Operation
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)

Check compressor condition, temperature, pressure, vibration, any


abnormal sound.
Check lubrication system, the pressure, oil level, cooling water etc.
Check for any leakage.
Always drain any liquid by opening the drain valve.
Check differential pressure of the filter.

Shut Down
Shut down is the reverse of the start-up.