1
P
P
k
1) (k
MW
RT Z
Work
k
1 k
1
2 1 1
Eqn. (1)
where:
Z
1
= Compressibility factor, at suction
R = Gas constant, 1545 ftlb/lb mol F
T
1
= Suction temperature, R
MW = Gas molecular weight
P
1
= Suction absolute pressure
P
2
= Discharge absolute pressure
k = Cp/Cv, average
The units of work in this equation are footpounds (force) per
pound (mass). These units are commonly simplified. The pound
terms are implied and the resulting unit is feet. This work term
is then called head.
Head is energy, even though the common units for it are feet.
Head is work per unit of mass. It is the work, or energy, needed
to lift a unit of mass to a height that is equivalent to the head.
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The head developed by a centrifugal compressor is analogous
to the head developed by a pump. It can be compared to a
column of fluid at the discharge of the compressor. Refer to
Figure 4. Visualize a column of gas with the discharge pressure
P2 at the bottom and the suction pressure P1 at the top. The
height of this column corresponds to the head required to
generate this differential pressure. The following relationship
applies, which is the same as for pump head.
( )
water to relative . G . S
31 . 2 P
Head =
Eqn. (2)
where: S.G. = Specific gravity
The temperature and specific gravity vary along the height of
the theoretical column, matching the temperatures along the
compression path from suction to discharge. This is the reason
why polytropic head is greater than isentropic head for the same
terminal pressures. Since temperatures are higher during
polytropic compression, the gas density is lower and a higher
column is required to achieve the same differential pressure.
Head is Analogous to Pump Head
Column of Fluid at Discharge
Note: Temperatures along the theoretical column are those that occur during compression. Temperatures are
higher during polytropic compression, therefore Polytropic Head > Isentropic Head.
Figure 4. Compressor Head
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Centrifugal Compressors Are Polytropic
Centrifugal compressors operate in a polytropic manner. The
work input to the gas is greater than the ideal amount. The
temperature rise occurs at a faster rate than it does during
isentropic compression. This is accounted for mathematically
by substituting the polytropic exponent n for the isentropic
exponent k. The following equation results:
1
P
P
n
1) (n
MW
RT Z
Head
n
1 n
1
2 1 1
Eqn. (3)
A fixed relationship exists between n and k as shown in the
following equation:
Efficiency Polytropic
k
1 k
n
1 n
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POLYTROPIC EFFICIENCY
Polytropic efficiency is a characteristic of each compressor.
Polytropic efficiency is equal to reversible work divided by total
work applied to the gas. Reversible work and total work are
different because of the friction losses caused by the gas
passing through the impellers and the diffusers at high velocity.
For a centrifugal compressor, the polytropic efficiency typically
ranges between 60% and 85%. Thus, approximately 25% of the
energy supplied through the compressor shaft is lost as heat,
with a 75% polytropic efficiency compressor.
Polytropic efficiency is shown on the manufacturer's
performance curve. It varies with volume flow rate and
compressor speed. The manufacturer's curve is the best place
to find the polytropic efficiency to make calculations. If this is
not possible, a reasonable approximation can be made using
the following formula.
Polytropic Efficiency = 0.0109 ln(ACFM) + 0.643 Eqn. (4)
where:
ACFM = Actual cubic feet per minute at suction condition
Note that Eqn. (4) will give the efficiency at the machine's Best
Efficiency Point (BEP). At speeds and flow rates above or
below BEP, the efficiency will be lower.
Compressor Discharge Temperature
The discharge temperature of a centrifugal compressor can be
estimated using the following equation.
n
1 n
1
2
1 2
P
P
T T
=
Eqn. (5)
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where:
T
1
= Suction Temperature, R
T
2
= Discharge Temperature, R
This calculation of discharge temperature is approximate unless
the compressibility factor is 1.0, because gas compressibility
has an effect on temperature rise. If the compressibility is less
than 1.0, the temperature calculated will be lower than the
actual temperature.
Power Requirements
The energy that is imparted to the gas is called gas horsepower.
Head is energy per unit of mass flow assuming 100% efficiency.
Horsepower is obtained by multiplying head times the mass
flow and dividing by efficiency to obtain the actual energy
imparted to the gas. The proper conversion factor must also be
included.
(33,000) Eff. Poly.
min
lb
) (H
) ghp ( Horsepower Gas
M
poly
=
Eqn. (6)
where:
H
poly
H
F
LB
LB FT
Head Polytropic
=
Poly Eff. fraction decimal , Efficiency Polytropic =
min
lb
MASS
ute min per pounds , Rate Flow Gas =
33,000
MIN HORSEPOWER
LB FT
Factor Conversion
F
=
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Brake horsepower is the total horsepower required at the shaft
of the compressor. This is equal to gas horsepower plus
mechanical losses. Mechanical losses are caused by friction
between the rotating surfaces. To estimate mechanical losses
see GPSA Engineering Data Book Figure 1338. To estimate
total mechanical losses, add bearing friction losses to oil seal
friction losses.
Work Aid 1 is a calculation form to facilitate the calculation of
head, discharge temperature, and brake horsepower.
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MOLLIER DIAGRAM METHOD
Mollier diagrams are another way to calculate head and
horsepower. Mollier diagrams show thermodynamic properties
with various quantities, such as temperature and pressure
constants, especially in terms of entropy and enthalpy as
coordinates. This method is useful only for pure gases. Mollier
diagrams are published for all of the common gases. The
procedure for calculating head and horsepower using Mollier
diagrams is as follows:
1. Locate the suction temperature and pressure on the Mollier
diagram. At this point, read the initial gas enthalpy, h, in
Btu/lb.
2. Follow a constant entropy line on the diagram to the
discharge pressure. At the discharge pressure, read the
enthalpy h
2
. This will be the isentropic enthalpy.
3. Calculate the isentropic head.
BTU
LB FT
778 x
LB
BTU
) h (h H
F
M
1 2 is
=
Eqn. (7)
4. Obtain the polytropic efficiency from the manufacturer's data.
5. Because Mollier diagrams are based on isentropic
calculations, it is necessary to convert the polytropic
efficiency to an isentropic efficiency. Use GPSA Figure 13
37 for this purpose.
6. Calculate the gas horsepower.
( )
( ) 000 , 33 . Eff . Is
. min lb H
ghp
is
= Eqn. (8)
Is. Eff. = Isentropic efficiency, decimal fraction.
7. Calculate brake horsepower (bhp) by adding mechanical
losses.
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8. To calculate the discharge temperature, first calculate the
actual enthalpy at discharge conditions.
( )
. Eff . Is
h h h
actual h
1
is
1 2
2
+
= Eqn. (9)
9. Read the actual discharge temperature from the Mollier
diagram at actual discharge enthalpy and the discharge
pressure.
Figure 5 illustrates this calculation method, using a pressure
enthalpy diagram available in the GPSA Engineering Data Book,
Section 24.
Figure 5. Mollier Method  Example
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CASING ARRANGEMENTS
Intercooling
Frequently, a compressor service requires two or more casings.
The gas is cooled in between casings. The reasons for
intercooling can be any of the following:
To avoid exceeding a maximum temperature limit set by the
mechanical parts or by the seal oil.
To reduce power requirements.
The additional casings are necessary because many
impellers are required. Intercooling is then convenient.
For calculations, each casing is treated as a separate
compressor. Each casing is often referred to as a stage. This
stage is a process stage and should not be confused with the
impeller/diffuser assembly discussed earlier. See Figure 6.
Figure 6. Casing Arrangements  Intercoolers
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Sidestreams
Sometimes additional gas is added to a compressor casing
between wheels (impellers). This is common practice with
refrigeration compressors, where some gas is available at
higher pressure. This gas is called a sidestream. Sidestreams
may also be taken out before discharge pressure is reached.
These sidestreams divide the compressor into sections. Each
section must be calculated as a separate compressor and has
its own performance curve. See Figure 7.
Figure 7. Casing Arrangements  Sidestreams
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PERFORMANCE CURVES
Figure 8 shows a generalized performance curve. Performance
curves contain the following information:
Head versus flow characteristic at several speeds
Horsepower versus flow rate and speed
The surge limit
Manufacturers plot performance curves in several ways. The x
axis may show actual cubic feet per minute or volume flow at
standard conditions. The y axis may show polytropic head,
pressure ratio for a particular gas, or discharge pressure for a
particular gas and a particular suction pressure. The most
useful parameters on a performance curve are head and
efficiency vs. actual flow since they are relatively unaffected by
gas composition or inlet temperature changes.
Figure 9 shows a typical manufacturer's performance curve for a
specific compressor.
Remember that the compressor always produces the same
polytropic head at a given speed and actual volume flow.* If the
gas composition or the suction temperature changes, then the
pressure ratio and the discharge pressure will change. If the
molecular weight of the gas increases, the pressure ratio will
increase. The horsepower required will also increase.
The polytropic efficiency for a machine is also constant at a
given actual volume flow rate and speed.
________________
* This assumption is valid for gas density changes of 20%. Greater changes affect the head produced. In
these instances, a new performance curve must be supplied by the original equipment manufacturer
(OEM).
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Manufacturer's performance curves are used for the following
purposes.
To determine whether a particular process operation will be
within the limits of the machine. The curve will tell you if an
operating condition such as flow, gas composition, suction
pressure or discharge pressure is feasible.
To determine the correct speed for a set of process
conditions such as suction ACFM and head.
To determine the brake horsepower required for an
operation, so that you can see if the driver will have enough
power.
To compare actual operating head and efficiency with the
predicted values. This determines whether the machine is
performing normally or whether it needs maintenance.
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Figure 8. Generalized Performance Curve
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With Permission from Exxon Company, U.S.A.
Figure 9. Typical Manufacturer's Performance Curve 
Head And Efficiency
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ACTUAL VOLUME
Manufacturer's curves and the machine's performance are
based on actual volume flow at the suction of the compressor.
The units are actual cubic feet per minute. Process data is
given in standard cubic feet per minute. To convert from
standard cubic feet per minute to actual cubic feet per minute,
use the following equation:
Z
520
T
P
7 . 14
SCFM ACFM
1
1
= Eqn. (10)
where:
SCFM = Standard cubic feet per minute (60F, 1 Atm)
SCFM = lb mol x 379
379
) MW ( 60
hr lb
SCFM
379
ute min
mol lb
SCFM
=
=
P
1
= Suction pressure, psia
T
1
= Suction temperature, R
Z = Compressibility factor, at suction conditions. Z is
calculated using GPSA Figures 233 or 238 to
2310.
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FAN LAWS
Fan laws for centrifugal compressors are similar to those for
centrifugal pumps. The equations show the relationship
between volume flow rate, head, horsepower, and compressor
speed. They can be used to predict performance at one speed
if the performance at another speed is already known. The
equations are as follows:
(
=
1
2
1 2
N
N
Q Q Eqn. (11)
2
1
2
1 2
N
N
H H
(
=
Eqn. (12)
3
1
2
1 2
N
N
bhp bhp
(
=
Eqn. (13)
where:
Q = Suction flow, actual
H = Polytropic head
bhp = Brake horsepower
N = Speed, rpm
These relationships are used to draw head and horsepower
curves at speed N
2
, if the curve at speed N
1
is known. Start
with any point on the head curve at speed N
1
. Calculate both
H
2
and Q
2
by Eqns. (11) and (12). This gives an equivalent
operating point on the curve for speed N
2
. A series of these
points defines the curve for N
2
. Similarly, for the horsepower
curve, calculate bhp
2
and Q
2
to obtain equivalent operating
points.
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Similar relationships exist for impellers of different diameters.
However, compressor impeller diameters are very seldom
changed in the field. Speed changes are much more common
for compressors.
It should be noted that the fan laws are reasonable
approximations and do not include the effects of gas density
and multistage compressor performance. They can be used for
estimating purposes only.
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SURGE
One important characteristic of a centrifugal compressor is its
surge point. Surge is a condition at which flow through the
compressor becomes unstable. This condition must be avoided
to prevent damage to the machine.
Surge occurs as follows: As the system resistance increases, a
centrifugal compressor reacts by backing up on its curve. That
is, the flow decreases so that the head produced can rise to
match the system demand. When the highest point on the
compressor curve is reached, the compressor cannot increase
the discharge pressure further. At this point, the system
discharge pressure is higher than the maximum possible
discharge pressure of the compressor. The flow in the impellers
becomes unstable and reverses, causing the discharge
pressure to collapse. After a few seconds forward flow
resumes. The discharge pressure rises again and the cycle
repeats every few seconds.
Surge occurs at a predictable flow rate. This flow rate is shown
on the manufacturer's curve. In practice, controls are provided
to keep the actual flow rate above this minimum value.
Effects Of Surge
It is normal practice to take careful precautions to prevent surge.
Surge disrupts the process and it can damage the compressor.
As a result of the reversing flow, the direction of shaft thrust
reverses. The temperature rises because the gas is internally
recycled and recompressed. Compressor vibration and speed
fluctuations are quite common. The reversing axial motion, high
temperatures and fluctuating pressure can also damage the
compressor seals. In a severe case, failure of the seal or the
thrust bearing, or even the impellers, can occur.
External piping can also be damaged. A check valve is normally
installed at the discharge of a centrifugal compressor. During
surge, this check valve can slam shut many times. This causes
loud noise, pipe vibrations, and possible leaks at piping flanges.
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Stonewall
Another phenomenon encountered in centrifugal compressors is
stonewall. As the flow rate through the compressor increases
beyond the design value, the amount of head developed
decreases, as per the compressor curve. At a certain flowrate,
the velocity of the gas will reach Mach 1. This is called the
stonewall condition. Stonewall is the result of reaching sonic
velocity in some part of the compression path, often in an
impeller or a diffuser. Once sonic velocity is reached, the
velocity cannot increase further and the flowrate cannot
increase beyond this point..
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EFFICIENCY OF AN OPERATING MACHINE
A process engineer is frequently asked to calculate the
efficiency of an operating centrifugal compressor in the field.
This actual efficiency can be compared with the original design
efficiency. If the actual efficiency is deficient, compressor
maintenance is required to remove deposits in the compressor
or to replace damaged impellers, labyrinth seals or diffusers.
The definitions of efficiency are as follows:
ghp Actual
ghp l Theoretica
Efficiency =
Note that gas horsepower (ghp) is used, not brake horsepower
(bhp). Mechanical losses are not included in efficiency, by
convention.
losses mechanical excluding , work Actual
path polytropic along work Minimum
Efficiency Polytropic
losses mechanical excluding , work Actual
work adiabatic Minimum
Efficiency Isentropic
=
=
Procedures
There are four different ways to calculate operating efficiency.
Method A. Compare driver power output to compressor
power input.
Method B. Compare compressor's actual temperature rise to
isentropic temperature rise.
Method C. Using a Mollier chart, compare actual h to
isentropic h.
Method D. A computer program, such as COMPRESS.
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Method A  Driver
Output vs. Compressor
Input
1. Calculate the gas horsepower using the process data and
compressor equations. If the gas is a pure compound, the
Mollier method can be used.
2. Calculate the actual work delivered to the gas by the driver.
After the driver horsepower is determined, subtract an
allowance for mechanical friction losses in the compressor.
3. Calculate the polytropic efficiency.
Losses Mechanical bhp Driver
ghp
Efficiency Polytropic
=
Note: It is not always possible to calculate the brake
horsepower of the driver accurately. If this is the case,
use method B.
Method B 
Temperature Rise
It is possible to calculate the efficiency of a centrifugal
compressor from compressor data only. The method is as
follows.
1. Analyze the gas compositions.
2. Calculate the value k for the gas.
3. Obtain temperatures and pressures at the suction and
discharge of the compressor from field data. Use calibrated
gauges.
4. Calculate the value m.
T
2
T
1
=
P
2
P
1
(
(
m

.

\

=
n
1 n
m that Note
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m=
log
T
2
T
1
T
1
(
(
(
(
logP
2
P
1
(
(
5. Calculate the polytropic efficiency.
m
k
1 k
Efficiency Polytropic
=
Note: If the compressibility factor is not equal to 1.0, some
inaccuracy will result from this method. However, the
method is suitable for tracking changes in efficiency over
time.
Tracking Changes
in Efficiency
The usual reason for calculating compressor efficiency is to
track changes in performance. The process engineer wants to
know whether the compressor is fouling, or if there is
mechanical deterioration due to erosion or corrosion. Method A
is not the best method for this purpose. Errors in data from the
driver will cause fluctuations in the calculated compressor
efficiency. For this purpose method, B is better because it uses
data only from the compressor. Note that accurate gas
analysis methods and gauge calibration are very important.
All suction/discharge temperature and pressure gauges should
be renewed or calibrated before any readings are taken. A small
inaccuracy in these values can lead to large inaccuracies in
efficiency. Gas samples should always be obtained from the
top of pipes and analyzed at the same temperature at which
they were taken.
Method C  Mollier
The efficiency of an operating compressor can also be
calculated using the Mollier method, if the gas is a pure
compound. The procedure is as follows.
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1. Measure the temperature and pressure at the suction and
discharge of the machine.
2. Plot the suction condition on the Mollier diagram. See
Figure 10.
3. Follow an isentropic line to the discharge pressure.
4. Calculate h isentropic.
5. Plot the actual discharge pressure and temperature on the
Mollier diagram.
6. Calculate the actual h.
7. Calculate the isentropic efficiency.
actual h
isentropic h
Efficiency Isentropic
=
8. Convert the isentropic efficiency to polytropic efficiency
using GPSA chart Figure 1337. It is necessary to track
the polytropic efficiency of the compressor to draw
meaningful conclusions about its performance. The
isentropic efficiency can change as process conditions
change, even though the condition of the compressor
remains the same.
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Figure 10. Efficiency From Operating Data  Mollier Method
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Method D  Computer
Program COMPRESS
The fourth method for calculating compressor efficiency is by
using a computer program such as COMPRESS. The input
data are
Compressor T
1
, T
2
, P
1
, P
2
Gas composition
Gas flow rate information
The program calculates
Polytropic efficiency
Gas horsepower
Polytropic exponent n
Polytropic head
The program uses an equation of state to calculate enthalpies
and entropies at inlet and outlet.
The COMPRESS program is the mosttaccurate of the four
methods. It is also the most convenient, when a PC is
available. Other computer programs such as PROII may also
be used.
The greatest source of potential error with a computer program
is in the accuracy of input data. For critical calculations,
calculate the power output of the driver (Method A) as a check
on the COMPRESS calculation. After accounting for
mechanical losses in the compressor and for gear efficiency, the
power output of the driver should match the power input of the
compressor.
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CONTROL SCHEMES FOR CENTRIFUGAL COMPRESSORS
Variable Speed
A control system must match the performance curve of the
compressor to the system requirements. One way to match the
compressor performance and system requirements is to use a
variable speed driver. Steam turbines and gas turbines are
usually capable of speed control. The range of control is
normally from 80% to 105% of rated speed. Motors normally
have a fixed speed, but they can be converted into variable
speed devices by changing their electrical input frequency.
Figure 11 illustrates the principle of speed control. The solid line
shows the head capacity curve at design speed. The design
point is on this curve. The desired operating point is at a lower
flow rate and a lower head. The objective is to find the
operating curve shown by the dashed line which passes through
that operating point. This operating curve will be at a new
speed N
2
, which is lower than the design speed N
1
.
Figure 11. Variable Speed Control
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Suction Throttling
If a fixed speed driver is used, suction throttling is an alternative
method to control compressor flow. Throttling the suction
increases the actual volume of the gas and moves the operating
point away from the surge point.
Suction throttling utilizes a butterfly control valve in the suction
line upstream of the compressor.
Figure 12 shows the principle of suction throttling control. The
speed of the compressor is constant; therefore, there is only
one operating curve, shown by the solid line in the diagram.
The operating point is matched to the operating curve by a
different method. As the throttle valve in the suction closes, the
pressure downstream of the valve decreases. As the pressure
decreases, the volume of suction gas increases. At the same
time, the compression ratio required by the machine is
increasing because the discharge pressure remains constant
while the suction pressure is dropping. This causes the actual
operating point to move from point A to point B.
Figure 12. Suction Throttling
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Discharge Throttling
Discharge throttling of a centrifugal compressor is not used as
the primary control because it increases the horsepower
required from the driver and moves the compressor towards the
surge point. However, discharge throttling is often used as a
secondary control to prevent stonewall. See Figure 13.
Figure 13. Discharge Throttling
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Antisurge Control
In addition to matching process flow to compressor capacity, the
flow rate must be kept higher than the surge point minimum flow
limit. This higher flow rate is accomplished by recycling a
portion of the compressor discharge flow back to the suction
vessel. This practice keeps the flow through the compressor
above the minimum flow required to keep the compressor out of
surge. Refer to Figure 14. A flow transmitter is located in the
discharge line from the compressor. A signal from this flow
transmitter controls the control valve in the compressor recycle
line. If the discharge flow falls below the minimum safe value,
the recycle valve opens and maintains the minimum flow rate.
The circuit must be arranged so that the recycle flow always
flows through a cooler. Otherwise, the recycling gas would
continue to be heated and exceed the temperature limits of the
compressor.
Figure 14. Antisurge Control
In many installations a microprocessor is added to the controls.
The computer calculates the actual surge flow at any moment.
This flow rate is not a constant value, but can change with
process conditions and gas composition.
Another requirement is that the recycle controller must respond
quickly when the flow drops below the minimum. Normal flow
controllers experience reset windup. With reset windup, it can
take up to one minute before the control valve opens. A
compressor recycle controller must have special features to
eliminate reset windup. In addition, the instrumentation used
must have adequate accuracy and the control valve must open
quickly (12 seconds).
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Antisurge Controls for Air Compressors
Figure 15 shows an alternative antisurge control for centrifugal
compressors in compressed air service. Instead of recycling air
to the suction of the machine, the air is discharged to the
atmosphere. In this case, the composition of the gas is fixed
and the suction pressure is fixed at atmospheric pressure.
Therefore, it is common to use discharge pressure as the
control variable rather than flow rate. A pressure controller in
the discharge line opens the control valve to atmosphere
whenever the discharge pressure rises above a preset safe
value. It is important to note that this scheme assumes all
intercoolers function as designed. If they become fouled, the
compressor will surge at a lower discharge pressure.
Figure 15. Antisurge Control Air Compressor
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Combined Controls
Figure 16 shows a combined control scheme for a typical
refrigeration circuit. The controls are shown in a simplified
manner, but they illustrate all of the principles mentioned so far.
This compressor has a side inlet or a second suction nozzle
operating at a pressure higher than the first suction pressure.
This is a common feature of refrigeration machines and divides
the compressor into two sections. The first section is between
the first suction and the sidestream inlet. The second section is
between the sidestream inlet and the discharge. The flow rate
for the second section is different from the flow rate for the first
section. Both flow rates must be controlled to keep the two
sections out of surge. Therefore, two flow sensors and two
recycle loops are used. This compressor is assumed to have a
constant speed driver. Therefore, a pressure controller in the
suction line is the primary flow control device. This pressure
controller matches the compressor head to the head required by
the system.
Figure 16. Combined Control Scheme  Refrigeration Circuit
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In the circuit shown, a second pressure controller is included in
the discharge line. This is sometimes necessary with
multisuction machines. If this pressure controller is not
included, the discharge pressure will drop during cold weather, a
condition that might be undesirable for the compressor or the
process. If the pressure drops very far, it may not be possible to
keep all of the compressor wheels out of surge. Secondly, the
operation of the external circuit (for example, the economizer)
would be affected when the discharge pressure drops. All the
pressures in the machine drop, including all the pressure at the
sidestream inlet. This could have an adverse effect on the
process. Note that discharge pressure control is a secondary
control. The primary control for matching compressor and
process is suction throttling.
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Centrifugal Compressors
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COMMON PROCESS PROBLEMS WITH CENTRIFUGAL
COMPRESSORS
Work Aid 3 lists the most common problems encountered with
centrifugal compressors. The possible causes of these
problems are also listed.
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Centrifugal Compressors
Saudi Aramco DeskTop Standards 42
WORK AID 1: CENTRIFUGAL COMPRESSOR  CALCULATION
FORM
(Page 1 of 2)
Gas
MW
Suction Flow Rate: SCFM, lb/min, ACFM
P
1
psia
P
2
psia
r = P
2
/P
1
= =
T
1
F, R
Polytropic Efficiency:
From Manufacturer's Specification
or: 0.0109 ln (Suction ACFM) + 0.643
= 0.0109 ln ( ) + 0.643
=
lst Trial 2nd Trial 3rd Trial
T
2
, K assumed
k
1
(GPSA Figure 138
or 136)
k
2
k avg
(k1)/k
(n1)/n =
( )
. Eff . Poly
k 1 k
T
2
= T
1
(r)
(n1)/n
Engineering Encyclopedia Rotating Equipment
Centrifugal Compressors
Saudi Aramco DeskTop Standards 43
T
2
calculated
(Page 2 of 2)
Z
1
(GPSA 233)
Polytropic Head:
(
(
(
1 ) r (
n
) 1 n (
MW
T ) 1544 ( Z
H
n
1 n
1 1
poly
  1 ) (
) )( (
) )( 1544 )( (
H
) (
poly
=
H
poly
=
feet
Gas Horsepower:
( ) ( )
( )( )
=
=
=
ghp
000 , 33
ghp
000 , 33 . Eff Poly
min / lb H
ghp
poly
Mechanical Losses (GPSA Figure 1338)
hp
ghp = ghp + Mechanical Losses
= +
= hp
Engineering Encyclopedia Rotating Equipment
Centrifugal Compressors
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WORK AID 2: CALCULATION FORM  MOLLIER METHOD
(Page 1 of 3)
Gas:
Suction Flow Rate: SCFM, lb/min, ACFM
P
1
psia
T
1
F
P
2
psia
h
1
Btu/lb
h
2
isentropic Btu/lb
H isentropic =  ( )
= Btu/lb
Polytropic Efficiency:
From Manufacturer Spec
or: 0.0109 ln (Suction ACFM) + 0.643
= 0.0109 ln ( ) + 0.643
=
1
2
P
P
r = = _____ = _____
k =
Isentropic Efficiency (from GPSA Figure 1337):
Engineering Encyclopedia Rotating Equipment
Centrifugal Compressors
Saudi Aramco DeskTop Standards 45
(Page 2 of 3)
Gas Horsepower:
Isentropic Head = Isentropic h (778)
= ( )(778)
= feet
ghp =
( )( )
( )( ) 000 , 33 Efficiency Isentropic
min lb Head Isentropic
( )( )
( )( ) 000 , 33
= hp
Mechanical Losses hp
(GPSA Figure 1338)
bhp = ghp + Mechanical Losses
= +
= hp
Polytropic Head =
Efficiency Isentropic
Efficiency Polytropic
Head Isentropic
= x
= feet
Engineering Encyclopedia Rotating Equipment
Centrifugal Compressors
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(Page 3 of 3)
Discharge Temperature:
Actual h =
Efficiency Isentropic
h Isentropic
=
= Btu/lb
Actual h
2
= h
1
+ Actual h
= +
= Btu/lb
T
2
= F (from Mollier Diagram)
Engineering Encyclopedia Rotating Equipment
Centrifugal Compressors
Saudi Aramco DeskTop Standards 47
WORK AID 3: COMMON OPERATING PROBLEMS FOR
CENTRIFUGAL COMPRESSORS
Common Problems Possible Cause(s)
Surge Improper setting of recycle flow control
Slow response of recycle controller and/or valve
Deposits in rotor or diffuser
Blockage in discharge line or recycle line
Low gas density (Low MW or high suction temperature)
Driver Overload High suction pressure
High molecular weight of gas
Low inlet temperature of gas
Vibration Liquid in suction
Deposits on rotor
Rotor erosion/corrosion
Mechanical problems (GPSA p. 1339)
Tripout or Liquid in suction knockout drum
Automatic Shutdown
High discharge temperature
Loss of lube or seal oil
Loss of buffer gas
High axial displacement
Instrument malfunction, false trip
High thrust bearing pad temperature
Overspeed of driver (steam or gas turbine)
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Centrifugal Compressors
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GLOSSARY
Adiabatic Compression A compression process in which no heat is added
or removed.
Balance Piston A device installed on the shaft of a centrifugal
compressor. It balances the thrust forces of the
impellers.
Best Efficiency Point
(BEP)
The point on the performance curve of a centrifugal
compressor where the efficiency is at a maximum.
Brake Horsepower The total horsepower required to drive a centrifugal
compressor. The power on the shaft between the
compressor and the driver.
Casing The outer containment vessel of a centrifugal
compressor.
Compressibility
Factor, z
The actual volume of a gas divided by the volume of
the same weight of ideal gas at the same molecular
weight, temperature, and pressure.
Also:
RT
PV
Z =
Diaphragm A removable section inside of a casing. It contains
the diffuser and a return passage, which directs the
gas to the suction of the next impeller.
Diffuser A component of centrifugal compressors located
after an impeller. The diffuser converts velocity
head to pressure head and directs the flow to the
next impeller.
Efficiency, Isentropic For a compression process, the ideal work required
divided by the actual work imparted to the gas.
Efficiency, Polytropic For a compression process, the minimum work
along a polytropic path divided by the actual work
imparted to the gas.
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Centrifugal Compressors
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Enthalpy A thermodynamic quantity that is the sum of the
internal energy of a body, U, and the product of its
volume, V, multiplied by the pressure, P. It is also
called Heat Content.
Entropy A quantity that is the measure of the amount of
energy in a system not available for doing work; a
small change in entropy, S, is equal to Q/T,
where Q is a small increment of heat added or
removed and T is the absolute temperature.
Erosion Damage to the internal parts of a compressor
caused by abrasion by solid particles.
Fouling The deposition of solid material on the internal
passages of a compressor.
Gas Horsepower The total energy imparted to gas in a compressor.
It includes the losses due to gas friction, but does
not include mechanical friction losses.
Head, Isentropic The energy per unit weight of gas applied during an
ideal compression process.
Head, Polytropic The energy per unit weight of gas applied during
polytropic compression.
Impeller The rotating element of a centrifugal compressor
that develops velocity head. Also called a Wheel.
Intercooler A gas cooler located between two casings of a
compressor.
Isentropic
Compression
Ideal compression along a path of constant entropy
under adiabatic conditions.
Isothermal
Compression
Compression at constant temperature. Heat must
be removed during the compression process.
Journal Bearing A bearing that supports the weight of the shaft of a
centrifugal compressor.
Labyrinth Seal A seal made of several rings in series that fit very
closely to a shaft and impeller eye. A labyrinth seal
minimizes leakage but cannot stop it completely.
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Centrifugal Compressors
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Mollier Diagram A diagram that shows the relationship between
enthalpy, entropy, temperature, and pressure for a
particular gas.
Oil Seal A seal at the end of a shaft. It is lubricated with oil
which positively prevents leakage of gas from the
casing of a compressor.
Performance Curve A curve supplied by the manufacturer which shows
the relationship between capacity, head,
horsepower, and efficiency.
Polytropic
Compression
The type of compression which takes place in a real
centrifugal compressor as compared to ideal
isentropic compression.
Side stream A stream of gas that is introduced into a casing after
one or more wheels. It can also be removed from a
casing before the final discharge nozzle.
Stonewall The maximum flow condition for a centrifugal
compressor. Stonewall is reached when the gas
velocity becomes sonic at some point in the
compression path.
Surge An unstable operating condition in a centrifugal
compressor. It is caused by process conditions that
result in flow rate being too low or the required
discharge pressure being too high.
Throttling Restricting the flow of a fluid, usually by means of a
control valve in the suction or discharge process
system.
Thrust An axial force on the shaft of a compressor. It is
caused by unequal pressures on the sides of the
impellers.
Thrust Bearing A bearing located on the shaft of a centrifugal
compressor that absorbs the axial force on the
shaft.
Wheel Another name for impeller.
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Centrifugal Compressors
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REFERENCES
Vendors Bulletin
Elliot Bulletin P25C, Multistage Centrifugal Compressors
Supplementary Text
Gas Processors Suppliers Association Engineering Data
Book, Section 13
Industry Standard
API 617  Centrifugal Compressors for General Refinery
Service
Saudi Aramco Engineering Standards
SAESK402  Centrifugal Compressors