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SURGE, STALL AND CHOKE | Turbomachinery International | Find Articles

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FindArticles / Business / Turbomachinery International / Nov/Dec 2008


by Brun, Klaus, Kurz, Rainer
Tweet More Articles of Interest The dropout dilemma: One in four college freshmen drop out. What is going on here? What does it take to stay in? 7 tips for effective listening: productive listening does not occur naturally. It requires hard work and practice - Back To Basics - effective listening is a crucial skill for internal auditors America's most wanted j-o-b-s - 10 hottest employment opportunities Culture, leadership, and power: the keys to organizational change - includes bibliography Eyewitness to Tragedy: 50 Years Ago, A Nation Mourned Its Children The true centrifugal compressor operating range: Surge, Stall and Choke The operating range of any compressor is limited on the high flow side by the choke region and on the low flow side by surge. Sometimes a phenomenon called rotating stall (or diffusor stall) further limits the operating range of the compressor. Due to this, there are often numerous opinions on what constitutes a compressor's operating range. When a compressor is operated away from its design point, the gas flow into the aerodynamic components (impellers, diffusore and so on) deviates from its design direction. If the angle of deviation (or incidence angle) is large, flow separation occurs. At higher incidence angles, the flow fully separates at the impeller leading edge or diffusor inlet and is said to be stalled. Rotating stall is a special form of stall, where one or multiple flow regions in the diffusor (or impeller) are stalled but where other regions of the same impeller or diffusor are not stalled yet. The stall regions usually travel in the direction of the rotation at a speed that is fractionally lower than the rotating speed of the compressor. Stall and flow separation may be precursors to surge. The stability limit of the compressor is reached when the head-flow characteristic becomes horizontal due to the increased losses at higher incidence angles. At this peak on the speed line, any small flow disturbance entering the compressor will lead to surge (as the maximum head capability of the compressor is exceeded). However, the compressor may go into surge well before this point on the map because of the influence of the connected piping system's impedance. Flow separation, stall, and rotating stall may be detectable by monitoring shaft vibrations, especially in high pressure machines. The turbulence caused by off-design incidence angles in some components as well as local flow separation may cause broad spectrum noise in the shaft vibration signature; that is, the overall compressor vibration levels will increase, but there is no distinct frequency. Rotating stall events also increase the measured vibration levels, but at a distinct frequency that is lower than the shaft rotating frequency (typically between 10% - 50%).


SURGE, STALL AND CHOKE | Turbomachinery International | Find Articles

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Both types of events, however, are not surge events. Nonetheless, in some instances, they are used to define the lowest flow for the compressor before recycling is necessary. At very high flows, the added losses due to increasing incidence angles, flow separation, or in some instances reaching the speed of sound in the impeller inducer, limits the maximum flow through the compressor at a given speed: The compressor is said to be in choke. For many compressors on the market, operating in choke does not cause problems. However continued operation in choke can result in high cycle fatigue failure of blade metal for some compressor models. The compressor manufacturer's recommendations as to a particular model's ability to continuously operate in choke should be followed. As a minimum, operating in choke should be avoided because it is very inefficient. Choke is easily detectable, and, if necessary, can be avoided. A function of piping Compressors will surge when forward flow through the compressor can no longer be maintained due to an increase in pressure across the compressor, and a momentary flow reversal occurs. Once a surge event occurs, the reversal of flow reduces the discharge pressure or increases the suction pressure, thus allowing forward flow to resume again until the pressure rise again reaches the surge point. This surge cycle continues at a low frequency until some change is made in the process or compressor conditions. Surge is a global instability in a compressor's flow that results in a complete breakdown and reversal of flow through the compressor. Full surge is a source of violent axial (and radial) dynamic forces on the compressor's elements and must be completely avoided. Surge, mild surge, violent surge, stability limit, and stall are often used interchangeably. One of the key problems is that the surge phenomenon is not just simply a compressor characteristic but is a systems issue: It is the result of the interaction of the centrifugal compressor with the piping system it is connected to. The net effect is that the compressor may enter into surge even though the maximum head (stability limit) at a given speed has not been reached. This follows from simple stability considerations: At flows higher than maximum head, any disturbance reducing the flow (for example, the closing of a downstream valve) will cause the compressor to increase the pressure ratio, thus counteracting the change. At flows lower than maximum head, where the slope of the head-flow relationship is positive, the same disturbance would cause the pressure ratio to fall. The net effect is an amplification of the flow disturbance which rapidly leads to full surge. It is also important to distinguish between full flow reversal where gas actually flows backwards through the compressor, which is called violent surge, and any other condition where the compressor loses the capability to make the necessary head, but is able to catch the flow before it can totally reverse, which is usually called mild surge. Mild surge and violent surge are very much functions of the piping geometry rather than the performance of the compressor and thus are difficult to determine from performance predictions or factory tests. Piping geometry, placement of check valves, and the surge avoidance system characteristics are critical and should be considered early in the design process of any new compression installation. In general, systems to avoid operation in surge, and where necessary, in choke, are well established, and reliably prevent compressors from damage.


SURGE, STALL AND CHOKE | Turbomachinery International | Find Articles

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Authors Klaus Brun is the manager for rotating machinery at Southwest Research Institute (SWRI: San Antonio, TX). Klaus is a past chairman of the ASME-IGTI Oil & Gas Committee and currently a member of the IGTI Board of Directors. Rainer Kurz is the manager of systems analysis for Solar Turbines Incorporated in San Diego, CA. He is an ASME Fellow since 2003 and past chair of the IGT Oil & Gas applications committee. Copyright Turbomachinery International Nov/Dec 2008 Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved Tweet

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