This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
CHAPTER 5 SCREW COMPRESSORS
5.1 TYPES OF SCREW COMPRESSORS
The two major categories of screw compressors are twin screw and single screw. The twin-screw compressor is widely used and has many years of operating experience. It occupies a position alongside reciprocating and centrifugal types as a standard choice of refrigeration compressors. The single-screw type, described in Section 5.22, is becoming well established because of the efforts of several manufacturers. The twin- screw will simply be referred to in this chapter as the screw compressor. The invention and evolution of the screw compressor bears a heavy Swedish imprint through a succession of firms beginning about the turn of the century with the company of the Ljungstrom brothers—a name that became associated later with the Ljungstrom air preheater for power plants. In 1913 the brothers organized a subsidiary, Svenska Turbinfabriks Aktiebolaget Ljungstrom, also known by the acronym STAL. Following some successes and reverses, the Ljungstrom brothers resigned from the company in the 1920s and a new chief engineer, Alf Lysholm, was appointed, who provided the firm with several inventions, including that of the screw compressor. The early screw compressors were fraught with many deficiencies in design and operation which had to be solved one by one. In 1951 the name of AB Ljungstroms Angturbin was changed to Svenska Rotor Maskiner AB (SRM). Up until this time screw compressors were equipped with synchronizing gears 125
INDUSTRIAL REFRIGERATION HANDBOOK
and operated dry, but during the 1950s the practice of injecting oil began and this development gave the screw compressor new impetus. Used primarily for air compressors initially, development work on the application of screw compressors to refrigerants began in the 1950s. The improvement of the rotor profiles to provide ease of manufacture and efficient performance has been an ongoing emphasis in the screw compressor development. By now about a million air compressors and nearly 100,000 refrigerant screw compressors have been manufactured. Section 4.2 in the previous chapter on reciprocating compressors presented a picture of the competitive situation between reciprocating and screw compressors. The conclusion of that discussion was that during the past several decades the screw compressor has gained much of the compressor market in industrial refrigeration, particularly in large-capacity units. Of the refrigeration capacity installed each year the screw compressor serves more of this capacity than does the reciprocating type, so the principles, applications, and procedures described in this chapter are especially important. Screw compressors are available in volume capacity ranges from about 0.05 to 1.5 m3/s (100 to 3300 cfm), driven by motors ranging in output from 25 to 1250 kW, and operating at usual speeds of 3550 rpm (2950 rpm with 50-Hz power). This chapter describes the screw compressor and explains how it works. The performance of the basic compressor is first explored, particularly as it encounters changes in evaporating and condensing temperatures. Capacity regulation of a screw compressor is typically achieved through the use of a special valve which provides continuous-capacity modulation over a wide range. Screw compressors are basically constant-volume-ratio machines, the implications of which will be explored. Oil is injected in screw compressors for sealing the spaces between the lobes, and this oil must subsequently be separated and cooled. End users of refrigeration plants usually buy screw compressors incorporated in packages that include the necessary auxiliaries, which will be described. The chapter concludes with an explanation of the single-screw compressor.
5.2 HOW THE SCREW COMPRESSOR WORKS
A cross-sectional view of two pairs of rotational elements, called rotors, of the screw compressor with two different profiles is shown in Figure 5.1. The male rotor here has four lobes and the female rotor.six gullies, and this combination of numbers of lobe/gullies is most common. Other combinations, such 3/5 and 5/7 are sometimes available. Another view of the rotors presenting the third dimension is shown in Figure 5.2. Some of the popular nominal diameters1 of the rotors are 125, 160, 200, 250, and 320 mm. Manufacturers often offer two or three rotor lengths for each rotor diameter and the length-to-diameter ratios usually fall in a range of 1.12 to 1.70. The rotors slip into a housing as indicated by the exploded view, as shown in Figure 5.3, that also shows some of the main elements of the compressor.
FIGURE 5.1 Screw compressor rotors with (a) symmetric profile, and (b) asymmetric profile.
FIGURE 5.2 Screw compressor rotors.
The separate processes experienced by the vapor in passing through the compressor are (1) filling of a cavity with suction gas, (2) sealing of gas between the rotors and housing, (3) reducing the volume of the cavity to perform the compression, and (4) uncovering the discharge opening to expel the compressed gas to the discharge line. One way to picture these processes is by observing a side view of the screws in Figure 5.4 whose threads move to the right as the rotors turn. The suction vapor enters the top of the rotors, and as the rotors turn a cavity appears at 1. Cavity 2 is continuing to fill, and cavity 3 is completely filled. Cavity 4 has now trapped gas between its threads and the housing. Cavity 5 is in the compression process with the volume shrinking as the cavity bears against the end of the housing. When the thread of the rotor reaches the discharge
INDUSTRIAL REFRIGERATION HANDBOOK
FIGURE 5.3 Exploded view of main elements of a screw compressor. (Courtesy Sullair Refrigeration)
FIGURE 5.4 Visualization of the intake, compression and discharge processes of a screw compressor.
port, the compressed gas flows into the discharge line. A translation process is indicated in Figure 5.4, which is an interval occurring between the time the cavity is sealed until compression begins. This translation process takes up about 30° of the rotation of the rotor.