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Centrifugalcompressor

Inacentrifugalcompressor,energyistransferredfromasetofrotatingimpellerbladestothegas.Thedesignationcentrifugalimpliesthatthegasflowisradial,andthe
energytransferiscausedfromachangeinthecentrifugalforcesactingonthegas.Centrifugalcompressorsdeliverhighflowcapacityperunitofinstalledspaceandweight,
havegoodreliability,andrequiresignificantlylessmaintenancethanreciprocatingcompressors.However,theperformancecharacteristicofcentrifugalcompressorsismore
easilyaffectedbychangesingasconditionsthanistheperformanceofreciprocatingcompressors.Onthispage,theperformancecharacteristiccurveispresentedwithemphasis
onprocesscontrolofcapacitybyspeedvariation,suctionthrottling,orvariableinletguidevanes.Processcontroltoavoidoperationinadamagingsurgeconditionisalso
addressed.

Contents
1Overview
2Multiandsinglestagecentrifugalcompressors
2.1Multistagecentrifugalcompressors
2.2Singlestagecentrifugalcompressors
3Majorcomponents
3.1Case(casingorhousing)
3.1.1Horizontally(axially)splitcase
3.1.2Vertically(radially)splitcase
3.2Rotorassembly
3.3Stationarycomponents
3.4Bearingsandseals
3.4.1Labyrinthseals
3.4.2Drygasseals
3.4.3Liquifiedfilmseals
3.4.4Bearings
4Compressorperformance
5Surge
6Stonewall(choke)
7Processinstallation
7.1Flowcontrol
7.1.1Speedcontrol
7.1.2Suctionthrottlevalves
7.1.3Variableinletguidevanes
7.2Antisurgevalves
7.3Flarevalve
7.4Shutdownvalve
7.5Blowdownvalve
7.6Dischargecheckvalve
7.7Reliefvalve
7.8Purgevalve
7.9Dischargecoolers
7.10Suctionscrubbers
7.11Ventvalve
7.12Safetyandmonitoringdevices
8Maintenance
9References
10NoteworthypapersinOnePetro
11Externallinks
12Seealso

Overview
Thephysicalsize(diameter)ofacentrifugalcompressorisdeterminedbythevolumetricflowrateattheinlet.Thecompressionratio(orhead)determinesthenumberofstages
(length).Therotatingspeedofacentrifugalcompressorisaninversefunctionofdiametertomaintainadesiredperipheralspeedattheouterdiametersoftheimpellers
regardlessofthephysicalsizeofthecompressor.Verylarge(i.e.,highvolume)flowcompressorsmayoperateatspeedsaslowas3,000rpm.Conversely,lowvolumeflow
compressorsmayoperateatspeedsupto30,000rpm.Powerrequirementisrelatedtomassflow,head,andefficiency.Dependingontheparticularapplication,centrifugal
compressorpowerscanrangefromaslowas500hp(400kW)tomorethan50,000hp(40MW).
Atlowvolumeflowrates,thewidthofthegaspassagesinacentrifugalcompressorbecomesnarrow,andtheeffectsoffrictionbecomesignificant,resultinginreduced
efficiency.Forthisreasonreciprocatingcompressorsoftenaremoreappropriateforlowvolumeflowapplications.Forfurtherdiscussionofthissubject,seethesectionbelow
oncompressorselection(/Compressors#Compressor_Selection).
TheAPIhasproducedanindustrystandard,APIStandard617,whichisfrequentlyusedtogovernthedesignandmanufactureofcentrifugalcompressors.Atypicalcentrifugal
compressorpackageisshowninFig.1.Thecompressorshownismountedonasinglebaseplateandisdrivenbyanelectricmotor.

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Fig.1Twocasecentrifugalcompressor
package(courtesyofDresserRand).

Multiandsinglestagecentrifugalcompressors
Multistagecentrifugalcompressors
Multistagecentrifugalcompressorscanbearrangedinavarietyofflowpathconfigurationsemployingfromonetotenimpellers,dependingontheheadrequiredfortheprocess
duty.Whenintercoolingisnotneeded,thearrangementisusuallyastraightthrough(inline)configuration.Forapplicationsthatrequireintercooling,theresultingtwosection
compressormaybeconfiguredineitheraninline(compound)orbacktobackarrangement.Forhighflow/lowheadapplications,adoubleflowconfigurationissometimes
employed.Inadoubleflowarrangement,halfoftheflowentersthecompressorthroughaninletconnectionateachendofthecasingandexitsthecasingthroughacommon
dischargeconnectioninthecenter.Alloftheseconfigurationsdescribedarebeamtypedesignsinwhichtheimpellersarelocatedbetweentheradialbearings.

Singlestagecentrifugalcompressors
Singlestagecentrifugalcompressorsmaybeconfiguredasabeamdesignorwithanoverhungimpellerarrangement.Intheoverhungconfiguration,theimpellerislocatedatthe
nondriveendoftheshaft(outboardofthenondriveendradialbearing).

Majorcomponents
ThemajorcomponentsofvariouscentrifugalcompressorflowpathconfigurationsareillustratedinFig.2throughFig.5.Thissectiondescribesthemajorelementsofcentrifugal
compressors.

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Fig.2Straightthrough(inline)centrifugal
compressorcrosssection(courtesyofDresser
Rand).

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Fig.3Inline(compound)centrifugalcompressor Fig.4Backtobackcentrifugalcompressor
crosssection(courtesyofDresserRand).
crosssection(courtesyofDresserRand).

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Fig.5Dualflowcentrifugalcompressorcross
section(courtesyofDresserRand).

Case(casingorhousing)
Thecase(casingorhousing)isthepressurecontainingcomponentofthecompressor.Thecasehousesthestationaryinternalcomponentsandthecompressorrotor.Bearingsare
attachedtothecasetoprovidebothradialandaxialsupportoftherotor.Thecasealsocontainsnozzleswithinletanddischargeflangeconnectionstointroduceflowintoand
extractflowfromthecompressor.Theflangeconnectionsmustbeproperlysizedtolimitthegasvelocityasnecessary.Thecaseismanufacturedinoneoftwobasictypes:
Horizontally
Verticallysplit
Constructioncanbecast(ironorsteel),forged,orfabricatedbywelding.
Horizontally(axially)splitcase
Ahorizontallysplitcaseissplitparalleltotheaxisoftherotor.Theupperhalfofthecaseisboltedanddoweledtothelowerhalf.Accesstotheinternalsofthecompressorfor
inspectionandmaintenanceisfacilitatedwiththiscasedesign(especiallywhentheprocesspipingconnectionsarelocatedonthebottomhalfofthecase).Thehorizontallysplit
designisinherentlypressurelimitedtopreventgasleakageatthecasesplitjoint.
Vertically(radially)splitcase
Thiscaseissplitperpendiculartotheaxisoftherotor.Heads(endcovers)areinstalledatbothendsforpressurecontainment.Theverticallysplitcaseconfigurationiscapableof
handlinghigherpressuresthanthehorizontallysplittype.Therotorandstationaryinternalsareassembledasacylindricalinnerbundlethatisinsertedaxiallythroughoneendof
thecase.Inspectionandmaintenanceofaradiallysplitcentrifugalcompressorrequirethattheinnerbundleberemovedfordisassembly.Removaloftheinnerbundlerequires
thatsufficientspacebeprovidedinthelayoutofthecompressorinstallation.

Rotorassembly
Thecompressorrotorisfundamentallyanassemblyofimpellersmountedonasteelshaft.Additionalrotorcomponentsincludemiscellaneoushardware,suchas:

Athrustbalancedrum(balancepiston)
Impellerspacers
Sealsleeves
Athrustdisc
Oneortwocouplings
AtypicalcompressorrotorispicturedinFig.6.

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Fig.6Exampleofcrompressorrotorassembly
(courtesyofDresserRand).

Theimpellersimpartvelocitytothegaswithbladesthatareattachedtoarotatingdisc.Theimpellerbladesareforwardleaning,radial,orbackwardleaning(withrespecttothe
directionofrotation)dependingonthedesiredperformancecharacteristiccurve.Backwardleaningbladestendtoprovidethewidestoperatingrangewithgoodefficiency.They
arethemostcommonlyusedbladeshape.Propersizingoftheimpellerflowchannelsisdeterminedbythevolumetricflowratetocontrolgasvelocitiesthroughtheimpeller.
Thismeansthat,inamultistagecompressor,theimpellersmustbeproperlysizedforpeakperformanceandproperlymatchedtoaccommodatethevolumetricflowrate
reductionthroughthecompressor.Impellerscanbeoftheopentypewithoutacoverplateortheclosedtypethatincorporatesacoverplateattachedtotheblades.Most
multistagecompressorsusetheclosedtypeimpellerdesign.Impellerconstructioncanbe:
Riveted
Brazed
Electronbeamwelded
Weldedconventionally
Formostapplications,highstrengthalloysteelisselectedfortheimpellermaterial.Stainlesssteelisoftenthematerialofchoiceforuseincorrosiveenvironments.Becausethe
impellersrotateathighspeeds,centrifugalstressesareanimportantdesignconsideration,andhighstrengthsteelsarerequiredfortheimpellermaterial.Forgasescontaining
hydrogensulfide,itisnecessarytolimittheimpellermaterialshardness(andthereforestrength)toresiststresscorrosion.
Multistagecentrifugalcompressorrotorshavenaturalresonantfrequenciesthatmustbeoutsidetheoperatingspeedrange.Rotordynamicdesignconsiderationscanlimitthe
maximumnumberofstagespercaseor,statedanotherway,limitthemaximumspeedforagivennumberofstages.

Stationarycomponents
Afterthegasentersthecompressorthroughtheinletnozzle,itmustbedirectedtotheinletofthefirststageimpellerinawaythatuniformlydistributestheflowtotheimpeller
atadesiredvelocity.Asystemofinternalstationarycomponentsisdesignedtodeliverthegastothefirstimpellerwithminimalpressuredrop.Stationaryinletguidevanesare
normallypositionedadjacenttotheimpellerinlet.Variationoftheinletguidevaneanglescanbeemployedtoadjusttheflowcapacityofthecompressorsperformance
characteristiccurve.However,avariableinletguidevanesystemintroducesmechanicalcomplexityaswellasadditionalsealingconsiderations(seethesectionbelowonFlow
Control(/Centrifugal_compressor#Flow_control))
Thegasexitstheimpellerathighvelocityandentersadiffuserpassage.Thediffuserisanimportantpartofthestationaryflowpaththatusuallycomprisestwobrllelwalls
formingaradialflowchannel.Inthediffuser,thegasvelocitydecreasesanddynamicpressureisconvertedtostaticpressure.Diffuserscanbeeithervanelessorvaned.After
exitingthediffuserpassage,theflowencountersareturnbend,whichcreatesa180degreeturninthedirectionofflow(i.e.,fromradiallyoutwardtoradiallyinward).Following
thereturnbend,theflowentersavanedreturnchannelthatdirectstheflowinwardtothenextimpeller.Thefunctionofthereturnchannelis(inthesamemannerasthefirst
stageinletsystem)touniformlydeliverflowtoeachimpellerwithminimallosses.Theinletguidevanesarelocatedattheexitofthereturnchannel.Thecomponentsthatform
thereturnchannelarecalleddiaphragms,andthediffuserpassagesarethespacesbetweenadjacentdiaphragms.Inletguidevanescanbeattachedtoaseparatepiecefittedinto
thediaphragmoranintegralpartofthediaphragm.
Followingthelaststageimpeller,thegasmustbecollectedanddeliveredtothedischargeflange.Thestationarycomponent,typicallyusedforthispurpose,isadischarge
volute.Thevolutemustbewellmatchedtothedischargenozzletominimizepressurelosses.Dischargenozzlevelocitiesalsomustbekeptwithinlimitstoavoidexcessivenoise
levels.Allofthestationarycomponentspreviouslydescribedplayanimportantroleinoverallcompressorperformance.

Bearingsandseals
Centrifugalcompressorsareequippedwithtworadial(journal)bearingstosupporttherotorweightandpositiontherotorconcentricallywithinthestationaryelementsofthe
compressor.Onethrustbearingalsoisusedtoensurethatthecompressorrotorismaintainedinitsdesiredaxialposition.Thethrustbearingusuallyisadoubleacting,tiltpad
designinstalledatbothsidesofarotatingthrustdisc.Properrotoraxialpositionistherebyassuredregardlessofthedirectionofthenetaxialpressureforcesactingontherotor.
Twodistinctcategoriesofcompressorsealsareused:
Internalseals
Shaftseals
Internalsealsminimizeinternalrecirculationlossesbetweenstagesandacrossthethrustbalancedrum.Labyrinthtypesealsarecustomarilyusedforthispurposetomaximize
operatingefficiency.
Shaftsealsarerequiredtosealthegasinsidethecompressoratthepointwherethecompressorrotorshaftpenetratesthecase.Thisvitalsealingfunctionisnecessarytoprevent
escapeofprocessgastotheenvironmentsurroundingthecompressor.Drygassealsarethemostcommonlyusedtypeofshaftseal.Liquidfilmsealsaresometimesused.
Labyrinthseals
Labyrinthtypesealsareusedtominimizerecirculationlosseswithinthecompressor.Alabyrinthsealconsistsofanumberofteeth(knifeedges)thatcanbeeitherstationaryor
rotating.Stationarylabyrinthteetharefittedtothecompressorstationarycomponentsveryclosetothecompressorrotor(seeFig.7).Sealingactionistheresultofflow
resistancecausedbyrepeatedthrottlingacrossthelabyrinthteeth.Labyrinthsealsaredesignedsothatoneofthetwoadjacentparts(labyrinthteethandrotor)isrelativelysoft.

Thesoftermaterialyieldsoncontactwithoutdamagetothehardermaterial.Compressormanufacturersselectlabyrinthsealclearancesthatareastightaspracticaltominimize
leakagewhileavoidingheavyrubbingwiththerotor.

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Fig.7Labyrinthseal(courtesyofDresser
Rand).

Drygasseals
Beginninginthelate1980s,thecompressorindustrybegantoembracetheapplicationofdrygassealtechnologytothecriticalfunctionofshaftsealing.Thesealconsistsofa
rotatingdiscrunningveryclosetoastationaryring.Therotatingdiscfacecontainsspecialgroovesthatgenerateanaxial(lift)forceduringrotation.Thestationaryringis
backedbyaquantityofcoilspringsthatforceittightlyagainsttherotatingdiscwhenthecompressorisatrest.Theliftforcecompressesthecoilspringsslightly,resultinginthe
verysmallrunningclearancebetweenthetwofaces.Thissmallclearanceeffectivelylimitsgasleakagefromthecompressorseals.Thesmallamountofgasleakageexitsthe
compressorthroughauxiliarysealpiping,whereitistheneithersenttoaflaresystemortosomeotherrecoverysystem.Usuallythetwocompressorseals(inletanddischarge
endsofthecompressor)aresubjectedtothegassuctionpressure.Athrustbalanceline(seefurtherdiscussioninthesectiononbearings(/Centrifugal_compressor#Bearings)
below)subjectsthedischargeenddrygassealtoinletpressure,therebyavoidingtheneedtosealthehigherdischargepressure.
Drygassealsrequirecleananddrygasforreliableoperation.Sealgasisnormallytakenfromthecompressordischargeandthencooledandfilteredaspartofanexternalseal
gasprocessingsystem.Asealreferencepressureismeasuredjustinboardofthedrygasseal,andapressureregulatingvalvesuppliesthesealgastothesealingfacesata
pressureslightlyabovethereferencepressure.Thissystemensuresthatthesealsarenotexposedtountreatedprocessgascontainingliquidsorparticulatematterthatcould
damagetheseals.Althoughdrygassealsarerelativelyexpensive,theirauxiliarysystemislesscomplex,physicallysmaller,andlessexpensivethantheauxiliarysystem
requiredbythepredecessorliquidfilmdesign.
Liquifiedfilmseals
Liquidfilmsealscanbeofthebushingtypeormechanicalcontacttype.Thebushingtypeisaverysimpleandruggeddesignthatincorporatestwoadjacentsealrings(bushings)
ateachendofthecompressor.Asealingfluidisintroducedintothespacebetweenthesealringsatapressureslightlyabovetheprocessgaspressureinboardfromtheinnerring.
Thepressuredifferentialacrosstheinnerringisassuredbyanoverheadsealoiltankpressurizedbycompressorsuctionpressure.Theelevationabovethecompressoroftheoil
levelinthetankassurestherequiredsealringpressuredifferential.Foralmostallcentrifugalcompressorsequippedwithliquidfilmseals,thesealingfluidisthesamelight
turbineoilasthatusedtolubricatethebearings.Therefore,theauxiliarysealoilsystemneededtosupplythesealoilcanbecombinedwith(orseparatefrom)theauxiliarylube
oilsystem.
Theinnersealringisdesignedtominimizeoilleakageintotheprocessside.Innersealleakage(alsocalledsouroilleakage)mixeswiththeprocessgasandisdrainedfromthe
compressorasanoil/gasmixture.Alabyrinthsealinboardofthesouroildrainisinstalledtopreventsealoilfromcontaminatingtheprocessgas.Theoil/gasmixturedrainsinto
adegassingtankwherethegasisremovedsothattheoilcanbesenttoasealoilreservoirforreuse.
Theoutersealringbreaksservetoinhibitflowaspressureisreducedtoanatmosphericdrain.Thisdrainiscommonwiththebearingoildrainwhenacombinedoilsystemis
used.Whenthelubeandsealoilsystemsareseparate,abufferedlabyrinthsealisplacedbetweenthelubeandsealoildrainstoensurethatthereisnooilcarryoverfromone
systemtotheother.
Mechanicalcontactsealsemployastationarycarbonringagainstarotatingsealface.Oilisalsousedasthesealingmediuminmechanicalcontactseals.Thesealingoilis
introducedbyapressureregulatingvalvethatismaintainedat25to40psiabovethesealreferencepressure.Oneadvantageofmechanicalcontactsealsisasignificantly
reducedsouroilleakagecomparedwiththebushingdesign.Unlikeoilfilmseals,mechanicalcontactsealscanbesuppliedwithafeaturethatallowsthecompressortomaintain
casepressureduringshutdownwithoutrequiringthattheauxiliarysealoilsystembeoperating.Mechanicalcontactseals,however,arerelativelycomplex.
Bearings
Theradialbearingsmostoftenusedincentrifugalcompressorsarethetiltingpadtypeandarecontinuouslylubricatedwithlightturbineoil.Beforetiltingpaddesigns,sleeve
typebearingswerecommonlyused.Thetiltingpadbearingdesignprovidesrotordynamiccharacteristicsthathelpassuresmoothandreliablemechanicaloperation.Radial
bearingsaresizedtobelargeenoughtosupporttherotorweight,yetsmallenoughtooperateatsufficientlylowperipheralspeedsrequiredtolimitoperatingtemperatureto
acceptablelevels.Somecentrifugalcompressorsareequippedwithmagneticradialbearings.Thesebearingssuspendtherotorbyelectromagneticforcetocentertherotorwithin
anairgapatthebearing.Useofmagneticbearingseliminatestheneedforanauxiliarylubeoilsystemhowever,themagneticbearingcontrolsystemalsorequirescooling.
Thepressureriseineachofthestagesofacentrifugalcompressorcreatesanaxialthrustforcethatactstowardtheinletendofthecompressor.Dependingontheoverallpressure
riseinthecompressor,thesethrustforcescanbesignificant.Aninlineconfigurationemploysathrustbalancedrum(balancepiston)togenerateathrustforcetooppose
(balance)thesumoftheimpellerthrustforces.Locatedatthedischargeendofthecompressor,thebalancepistonisasimplediscshapedelementinstalledonthecompressor
shaftandequippedwithasealarounditsouterdiameter.Thespaceadjacenttotheoutboardfaceofthebalancepistonissubjectedtocompressorsuctionpressureascreatedby
anauxiliarythrustbalanceline.Theinboardsurfaceofthebalancepistonissubjectedtowhatisessentiallythecompressordischargepressure.Theresultingpressuredifferential
acrossthebalancepistoncreatesanaxialforcetowardthedischargeend,thusopposingtheimpellerthrustforces.Properselectionofthebalancepistondiameterresultsinsmall
netthrustforceandallowsuseofareasonablysmallthrustbearingtoabsorbtheresidualthrustforcesandmaintainproperrotoraxialpositioning.
Liketheradialbearing,thethrustbearingisusuallyatiltingpaddesignlubricatedwithlightturbineoil.Somethrustbearingdesignsemployasystemoflevelingblocksbehind
eachtiltingpadtoensureuniformloaddistribution.Aswiththeradialbearings,magneticthrustbearingsalsoareavailable.

Compressorperformance
Theperformancecharacteristicofacentrifugalcompressorisgraphicallypresentedintheformofafamilyofcurvesthatcollectivelyareknownasaperformancemapor
operatingenvelope.AnexampleofaperformancemapisgiveninFig.8.Intheexamplemap,theinletvolumeflowisplottedalongthexaxisandtheheadorpressureratiois
plottedalongtheyaxis.Theapproximatesurgelimitdepictedattheleftsideofthemapdefinestheminimumflownecessarytoavoidapotentiallydamagingsurgecondition
(seesectiononSurge(/Centrifugal_compressor#Surge)below).Attheextremerightportionofthemapisthestonewall(choke)limit(seesectiononStonewall(Choke)
(/Centrifugal_compressor#Stonewall_.28choke.29)below).Eachofthefamilyofcurvesfromthesurgelimittothestonewallrepresentstheflowvs.pressurecharacteristicata

givencompressorspeed.Theslopeofthecurvevarieswiththenumberofstages,becomingsteeperwithanincreasingnumberofstages.Theellipticalcurves(dashedlines)
denotecompressorefficiency.Thedesignpointisat100%speed,andthecompressorcomponentsareselectedsothatthedesignpointhasasafemarginfromsurgeand
stonewall,aswellasoptimumefficiency.

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Fig.8Centrifugalcompressorperformance
map(courtesyofDresserRand).

Surge
Thesurgelimitdefinestheflowatwhich,foragivenspeed,theoperationofthecompressorbecomesunstable.Atflowratesbelowthesurgelimitthecharacteristiccurve
actuallydroopstowardzeroflowafterhavingreacheditsmaximumpointatthesurgelimit.Becauseoperationbelowthesurgelimitisunstable,thisportionofthecurveisnot
showninFig.8.Whentheflowisreducedbelowthesurgelimit,thepressureatthedischargeofthecompressorexceedsthepressuremakingcapabilityofthecompressor,
causingamomentaryreversalofflow.Whenthisflowreversaloccurs,thepressureofthedischargesystemisreduced,allowingthecompressortoresumedeliveringflowuntil
thedischargepressureagainincreases,andthesurgecyclerepeats.Surgingusuallycreatesaclearlyaudiblenoise.Prolongedoperationinthisunstablemodecancauseserious
mechanicaldamagetothecompressor.Whenoperatinginasurgecondition,thecompressordischargetemperatureincreasessignificantlyandthecompressorexperienceserratic
andseverevibrationlevelsthatcancausemechanicaldamageparticularlytotheinternalseals.
Acompressorcanbebroughtoutofsurgeinanumberofways.Themostobviousistoincreaseflow(seesectiononAntisurgeValves
(/Centrifugal_compressor#Antisurge_valves)below).Decreasingdischargepressureand/orincreasingspeedareotherwaystomoveoutofasurgecondition.
Compressormanufacturersusuallyperformanaerodynamicperformancetestbeforedeliveringthecompressor.Determinationofthecompressorsactualsurgelimitisavery
importantaspectofthemanufacturersshoptestingprogram.

Stonewall(choke)
Thestonewalllimitoftheperformancecurvedefinestheflowatwhichthegasvelocityatoneoftheimpellersapproachesthevelocityofsoundforthegasattheconditions
withinthecompressorwherethissonicconditionisfirstencountered.Atthestonewall(orchoke)flowthepressurevs.volumecurvebecomesessentiallyvertical,anditisnot
possibletodevelopheadorpressureatanygreaterflow.Whentherequiredoperatingflowexceedsthestonewalllimit,theonlyremedyistoreconfigurethecompressorwith
impellers(andmatchedstationaryhardware)designedforlargerflowrates.

Processinstallation
Acentrifugalcompressormaybeconfiguredwithoneofavarietyofprocessconnectionarrangements.Forgrademountedinstallations,theprocessconnectionsaremostoften
positionedontheupperhalfofthecasingwiththeprocesspipingconnectedfromabovethecompressor.Insomeinstallations,horizontal(side)connectionsareemployed.The
horizontalconnectionarrangementisfrequentlyusedinboostercompressorsforgastransmission.Aradialsplitcasedesign(seethesectiononCase
(/Centrifugal_compressor#Case_.28casing_or_housing.29)above)ispreferredforthesetwoarrangements.Anotherarrangementisthemezzaninemountedconfiguration.With
thistypeofinstallation,thecompressorconnectionsareonthelowerhalfofthecasing,andtheprocesspipingisconnectedfromunderneaththecompressor.Iftheoperating
pressuresaresufficientlylow,anaxialsplitcasedesignisappropriate(seethesubsectiononcases).Toachieveoptimumperformance,itisnecessarytoinstallthecompressor
withasufficientlylongstraightsectionofinletpipingupstreamofthecompressorinletflange.Mostcompressormanufacturersrequirethatthelengthofthisstraightsectionbe
atleasttwotimestheinletflangediameter.
Thecompressormustbewellintegratedintotheentireprocesssothatstartup,operation,andshutdowncanbesafelycontrolled.Thenextsectionprovidesadescriptionof
controlconceptsandtheprocessequipmentrequired.(RefertoFig.9foratypicalprocessflowdiagram.)Theindividualelementsofthecontrolandsafetysystemillustratedin
Fig.8arediscussedinthissection.

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Fig.9Exampleofcentrifugalcompressor
processorflowdiagram(courtesyofDresser
Rand).

Flowcontrol
Mostcompressionprocessesrequirethecompressortodeliverarelativelyconstantdischargepressureoverarangeofcapacities.However,thecentrifugalcompressor
characteristiccurvefromFig.8showsthatthepressureratio,infact,variescontinuouslywithflow.Theprocesscancontroleithersuctionordischargepressure.Ifoneisfixed,
theotherwillvaryasdictatedbythecompressorcharacteristiccurve.Thethreemethodsofmaintainingaconstantdischargepressureforvaryingcapacityarediscussednext.

Speedcontrol
Centrifugalcompressordriversareeitherofthefixedorvariablespeedtype.Moststeamorgasturbinesandthoseelectricmotorsequippedwithavariablefrequencydrive
systemareallavailableasvariablespeeddrivers.Foragivendischargepressure,compressorcapacitymaybeincreasedbymerelyincreasingthespeedofrotation.Conversely,
capacitymaybedecreasedbyreducingcompressorspeed.Capacitycontrolbyspeedvariationisthemosteffectivewaytomaximizetheoperatingflexibilityofacentrifugal
compressor.
Suctionthrottlevalves
Afixedspeedmotorisoftentheleastexpensivedriverforacentrifugalcompressor.Whendesigningacentrifugalcompressordrivenbyafixedspeedmotor,itisnecessaryto
establishthespeedbasedontheoperatingconditionthatrequiresthelargestcapacityfortherequireddischargepressure.Whenoperatingatlowercapacities,thecompressor
inherentlydeliversagreaterdischargepressure(foragivenprocesssuctionpressure)thandesired.Thesolutiontothisproblemistoinstallathrottlevalveattheinletofthe
compressor.Suctionpressurereductionbythrottlingincreasesthepressureratiorequiredtodeliveragivendischargepressure.Theeconomictradeoffforthismethodof
capacitycontrolisadditionalcompressorpowervs.additionalcapitalexpenditureforavariablespeeddriver.
Variableinletguidevanes
AsdiscussedinthesectiononStationaryComponents(/Centrifugal_compressor#Stationary_components)above,thecompressorperformancecharacteristiccurvecanbe
adjustedbychangingthedirectionoftheflowofgasintotheimpeller.Whenasystemofvariableinletguidevanesisemployed,itispossibletoadjusttheinletguidevane
anglestomaintainadesireddischargepressureoverarangeofcapacity.Practicaldesignlimitationsmakeitdifficulttoinstallvariablevanesatallstagesotherthanthefirst
stage.Forsinglestagecompressors,thismethodofcontrolissometimesquiteeffective.However,formultistagecompressors,therangeofcontrolislesseffectiveandbecomes
evenlesssowithincreasingnumbersofstages.

Antisurgevalves
AsdiscussedinthesectiononSurge(/Centrifugal_compressor#Surge)above,avoidingsurgeisextremelyimportant.Theinstallationofanantisurge(recycle)valveandits
associatedcontroldevicesisrequired.Theantisurgevalveislocatedinarecyclelineconnectingthecompressordischargetotheinlet.Formultisectioncompressors,itisgood
practicetoinstallaseparaterecyclelinewithanantisurgevalveforeachofthecompressorsections.Instrumentationisrequiredtomeasuretheflowtoeachsection,andasurge
controllermustinitiatetheopeningoftherecyclevalvewhenreducedcapacityapproachesthesurgelimit.Thecapacityatwhichtheantisurgevalvebeginstoopenisusuallyset
tobeabout10%largerthantheactualsurgelimit.
Forvariablespeedcompressors,thesurgelimitcurve(seeFig.8)definestherelationshipbetweenthesurgelimitandtheoperatingspeed.Thelogicprogrammedintothe
antisurgecontrollermaintainsthe10%safetymargin,regardlessofspeed.Thiscanbedepictedgraphicallybyalineparalleltothesurgelimitcurveandistypicallycalledthe
controlline.
Thegasrecycledthroughtheantisurgevalvealsomustbecooledbecauseitssourceisthecompressordischarge.Ifuncooled,thesuctiontemperaturewillincreasebymixingthe
hotterrecycledgaswiththemainprocessinletgas.

Flarevalve
Theflarevalveprotectsupstreamequipmentfromoverpressurizationthatmayoccurbecauseofaflowincreaseandpreventsoverloadingofthecompressordriver.Fora
constantdischargepressuresystem,anincreaseinflowresultsinanincreaseinsuctionpressure.Highersuctionpressuresdelivermoremassflowand,therefore,increasethe
powerrequiredtooperatethecompressor.Thepresenceofasuctionthrottlevalvealsocancontributetoanincreaseinpressureupstreamfromthecompressor.Thus,flare
valvesareparticularlyimportantininstallationswithinletthrottling.

Shutdownvalve
Shutdownvalvesareinstalledatboththesuctionanddischargetoenablethecompressortobeisolatedduringshutdownperiods.Tosatisfysafetyconcerns,theshutdownvalves
shouldbelocatedoutsideanybuildingorenclosure.Automaticcontroloftheshutdownvalvesisusuallyemployed.

Blowdownvalve
Atshutdown,aftertheshutdownvalveshaveisolatedthecompressor,thepressureinthecompressorsettlesouttoaleveldeterminedbyavarietyoffactors.Ablowdownvalve
isusedtodepressurizethecompressoruponshutdown.Automaticcontroloftheblowdownvalveisrecommendedforhighrisklocationsandforcompressorsthatarefittedwith
liquidfilmseals.Whenliquidfilmsealsareemployed,thecompressormustbedepressurizedbeforetheoverheadsealtankshavebeendrained.

Dischargecheckvalve
Placementofacheckvalveatthedischargeofeachsectionofcompressioncanminimizeoreliminatebackflowthroughthecompressor.Shouldbackflowoccur,itispossible
forthecompressortoexperiencepotentiallydamagingreverserotation.Thepresenceofdischargecheckvalvesalsoprovidesthebenefitofisolatingeachoftheantisurge
recycleloops(seethesubsectiononAntisurgeValvesabove).

Reliefvalve
Thecompressordevelopsitsmaximumpressureratiowhenoperatingatbothitsmaximumcontinuousspeedandthesurgecontrolcapacity.Ifthesuctionpressureincreasesfor
anyreason,thedischargepressurecorrespondinglyincreasestothevaluegivenbytheperformancemapforthespeedandcapacityinquestion.Apressurereliefvalveis
installedtoprotectagainstoverpressurizationofdownstreamequipmentbythecompressor.

Purgevalve
Beforestartup,itisnecessarytopurgeairfromthecompressorandpipingsystem.Apurgevalveisinstalledasabypasstothesuctionshutdownvalveforthispurpose.Purging
mustbedonewithalowflowratetopreventthepurgegasfrominitiatingcompressorrotation.Forthisreason,thepurgevalveissmall.

Dischargecoolers
Adischargecooler(aftercooler)isrequiredifthetemperatureofthegasatthecompressordischargeexceedsthatrequiredforthenextstepintheprocess.

Suctionscrubbers
Erosionofcompressorcomponentscanbecausedbyingestionofexcessiveliquid.Topreventerosiondamage,suctionscrubbersareinstalledtoremoveliquidsthatcondensein
thegassuctionlinebecauseofcoolingorthatresultfromanupstreamprocessupsetresultinginliquidcarryovertothegassuctionline.

Ventvalve

Amanualventvalveisinstalledbetweenthecompressordischargeandthedischargecheckvalvetoallowthecompressortobeisolatedfromtheventheaderformaintenance.
Oncethecompressorisshutdownandblowndowntotheventheader,theblowdownvalvecanbeclosedandtheventvalveopened.Iftheblowdownvalvewerekeptopen,
thereisapossibilitythatgasintheventheaderwouldflowintothecompressorsystem,endangeringthemaintenanceoperation.

Safetyandmonitoringdevices
Centrifugalcompressorsareequippedwithinstrumentationtomonitormechanicalhealth.Vibrationmonitoringisaccomplishedbyeddycurrentprobesinstalledateachofthe
compressorbearings.Vibrationamplitudeismeasuredateachradialbearing,andtheaxialpositionoftherotorismeasuredatthethrustdiscorshaftend.Thetrendofradial
vibrationamplitudeprovidesinsightintotheconditionofthecompressorregardingrotorbalanceandalignment.Whenaproblemarises,thevibrationfrequencyspectrumcan
alsobeanalyzedtoprovideusefuldiagnosticinformation.Theaxialpositionprobemonitorsthestateofthrustbearingwear.Eachofthebearingsisalsofittedwithtemperature
sensingdevices.Bytrendingthethrustbearingpadtemperatures,itispossibletodiscerntheconditionoftheinternalsealsbecausechangesinsealconditionaffectthrustloads
and,therefore,bearingtemperature.Alarmandshutdownsettingsforhighbearingvibrationandtemperatureareestablishedinthecompressorcontrolsystem.
Externaltothecompressorarenumerousotheralarmandshutdownsafeguards.Asaminimum,lowlubeoilpressure,lowsealgaspressuredifferential,overspeed,high
dischargegastemperature,highandlowsuctionanddischargepressures,andhighliquidlevelinthesuctionscrubberaremonitoredandwillinitiateashutdownwhen
necessary.

Maintenance
Whenproperlydesigned,operated,andprotected,centrifugalcompressorsarecapableoflongsustainedrunswithverylittlemaintenance.Thecomponentsmostpronetowear
arethebearingpadsandinternallabyrinthseals.Foulingoftheinternalsurfacescanoccurinsomeservicescausingadegradationofperformance.Thevibrationandbearing
temperaturemonitoringinstrumentation,describedinthesectiononsafetyandmonitoringdevices(/Centrifugal_compressor#Safety_and_monitoring_devices)above,provides
valuableinformationtotheoperatorabouttheprobableconditionofthecompressorbearings.Excessivewearoftheinternallabyrinthsealscanoccurwhenthecompressor
experienceshighvibrationexcursionsfromprocessupsetsoroperationinasurgecondition.Worninternalsealscauseadegradationofcompressorperformancesimilartothat
causedbyfouling.
Unlessthereisanidentifiedproblemwiththecompressor,maintenanceisgenerallycarriedoutduringplannedturnarounds.Asaminimum,theeasilyaccessiblecompressor
bearingsandshaftendsealsareinspectedandreplacedwithspares,ifnecessary.Completedisassemblyisrequiredtoinspectthecompressorinternals.Theauxiliarylubeand
sealsystemsrequiremaintenanceofmiscellaneousitemssuchassealgasfilters,lubeoilpumpseals,oilfilters,etc.

References
Usethissectionforcitationofitemsreferencedinthetexttoshowyoursources.[Thesourcesshouldbeavailabletothereader,i.e.,notaninternalcompanydocument.]

NoteworthypapersinOnePetro
UsethissectiontolistpapersinOnePetrothatareaderwhowantstolearnmoreshoulddefinitelyread

Externallinks
UsethissectiontoprovidelinkstorelevantmaterialonwebsitesotherthanPetroWikiandOnePetro

Seealso
PEH:Compressors(/PEH%3ACompressors)
Compressors(/Compressors)
Reciprocatingcompressor(/Reciprocating_compressor)
Rotarypositivedisplacementcompressors(/Rotary_positive_displacement_compressors)
Categories(/Special%3ACategories): 4.1.5ProcessingEquipment(/Category%3A4.1.5_Processing_Equipment)
4.1.6Compressors,engines,andturbines(/Category%3A4.1.6_Compressors,_engines,_and_turbines)

(https://www.onepetro.org/search?q=Centrifugalcompressor)

(http://scholar.google.ca/scholar?q=Centrifugalcompressor)

(http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=Centrifugalcompressor)

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