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CONSTRUCTION OF CENTRIFUGAL AND AXIAL COMPRESSOR

Table of Contents
1.CENTRIFUGAL COMPRESSOR..................................................................................................................................2
1.1.TYPES OF CENTRIFUGAL COMPRESSOR...................................................................................................................................2
1.2.CONSTRUCTION OF CENTRIFUGAL COMPRESSOR......................................................................................................................3
1.3.IMPELLER AND NOZZLE ARRANGEMENTS OF MULTISTAGE CENTRIFUGAL COMPRESSOR.................................................................10
2.AXIAL COMPRESSOR.................................................................................................................................................14
2.1.INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................................................................14
2.2.CONSTRUCTION OF AXIAL COMPRESSOR.............................................................................................................................14

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CONSTRUCTION OF CENTRIFUGAL AND AXIAL COMPRESSOR

1. Centrifugal Compressor
1.1. Types of centrifugal compressor
In general the centrifugal compressors are divided in three different types
1.1.1. Horizontally split:
Horizontally-split casings consisting of half casings joined along the horizontal
center-line are employed for low pressure rating. The suction and delivery
nozzles as well as any side stream nozzles, lube oil pipes and all other
compressor-plant connections are located in the lower casing. With this
arrangement all that is necessary to raise the upper casing and gain access to all
internal components, such as the rotor, diaphragms and labyrinth seals is to
remove the cover bolts along the horizontal center-line.
Advantages:
• Typically less expensive to manufacture
• Easier to inspect / maintain in plant and refinery location
• Better for multiple body train.
• Minimum special tooling required.
• Low heaviest part for maintenance.
Disadvantages:
• Larger sealing surfaces.
• Low pressure ratings.
• Removal of overhead piping for up nozzle configuration.
1.1.2. Vertically split casing (Barrel):
Vertically-split casings are formed by a cylinder closed by two end covers: hence
the denotation ‘‘barrel,’’ used to refer to compressors with these casings. These
machines, which are generally multistage, are used for high pressure services
The barrel compressor has a horizontally split inner casing containing the rotor.
This inner casing is inserted into the barrel and closed by an end wall. Inside the
casing, the rotor and diaphragms are essentially the same as those for
compressors with horizontally-split casings. These compressor can withstand
higher pressure than a horizontally split compressor casing. The circular cover
can be made gas tight easier than the flat flange of the horizontally split
compressor. These compressors are used for low molecular gas application and
high pressure requirements.
Advantages:
• Reduced potential for gas leakage.
• Higher pressure rating.
• Can remove rotor and internal components without affecting external
piping.
• Removable inner bundle allows easy disassembly / transportation.
Disadvantages:
• Typically more expensive to manufacture.
• More difficult to maintain if in the middle of a multiple body train.
• Special tooling required for inner bundle removal.
• High “Heaviest part for maintenance”.
1.1.3. Pipeline or booster:

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CONSTRUCTION OF CENTRIFUGAL AND AXIAL COMPRESSOR

These have bell-shaped casings with a single vertical end cover. They are
generally used for natural gas transportation to take care of the frictional loss in
the pipes. They normally have side suction and delivery nozzles positioned
opposite each other to facilitate installation on gas pipelines. These are typically
used in the gas transportation lines.
1.2. Construction of centrifugal compressor
Refer Figure 1, showing the major components / internals of a typical barrel type
centrifugal compressor.

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Figure 1-Typical barrel type centrifugal compressor

1.2.1. Casing:
Depending on the compressor family the casings can be Horizontal split or
vertical split. Figure 2 shows a typical cross section of a centrifugal compressor.

Figure 2-Typical cross section of centrifugal compressor

Outer casing contains a stator part, called a diaphragm bundle (B) and rotor
formed by a shaft (C), one or more impellers (D), a balance drum (E), and thrust
collar (F). The rotor is driven by means of a hub (G) and is held in position axially
by a thrust bearing (I), while rotating on journal bearings (H). The rotor is fitted
with interstage labyrinth seals (L) and, suitable end seals (M). Gas is drawn into
the compressor through a suction nozzle and enters an annular chamber (inlet
volute), flowing from it towards the center from all directions in a uniform radial
pattern. The gas flows into the suction diaphragm and is then picked up by the
first impeller.

Suction diaphragm

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Figure 3-Inlet flow through volute, suction diaphragm and impeller

1.2.2. Diaphragm:
A diaphragm consists of a stationary element which forms half of the diffuser wall
of the former stage, part of the return bend, the return channel, and half of the
diffuser wall of the later stage. Due to the pressure rise generated, the diaphragm
is a structural as well as an aerodynamic device. For the last stage or for a
single-stage compressor, the flow leaving the diffuser enters the discharge
volute.

Figure 4- Diaphragm and Labyrinth seal

Suction (inlet), intermediate and discharge diaphragms create the gas flow path
within the stationary components. The suction diaphragm conveys the gas into
the eye of the first impeller and can be fitted with adjustable guide vanes to
optimize the inlet flow angle. Intermediate diaphragms perform the dual function
of forming the diffuser passage (where gas velocity is transformed into pressure)
and the return passage to channel gas to the eye of the next impeller. The
discharge diaphragm forms the diffuser for the last impeller as well as the
discharge volute. The diaphragms are usually horizontally-split.
Easily removable labyrinth seals are installed on the diaphragms at impeller
shrouds, to prevent return flow from discharge to suction and on the shaft
sleeves to eliminate interstage leakage.
Interstage labyrinth seal:
Due to the pressure rise across successive compression stages, seals are
required at the impeller eye and rotor shaft to prevent gas backflow from the
discharge to inlet end of the casing. The condition of these seals directly affects
the compressor performance.
The simplest and most economical of all shaft seals is the straight labyrinth
shown in Figure 5. This seal is commonly utilized between compression stages
and consists of a series of thin strips or fins, which are normally part of a
stationary assembly mounted in the diaphragms. A close clearance is maintained
between the rotor and the tip of the fins. Tight clearance and flow turbulence
creates resistance to leakage flow.

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Figure 5-Labyrinth in new condition.

The labyrinth seal is equivalent to a series of orifices. Minimizing the size of the
openings is the most effective way of reducing the gas flow. Labyrinths clogged
with dirt (Figure 6 – where turbulence is reduced and leakage flow is increased)
and worn or wiped labyrinths with increased clearances (Figure 7 – Where
clearance is increased, turbulence is reduced resulting in increased leakage)
allow larger gas leakage. This can affect compressor operation, and therefore the
seals should be replaced.

Figure 6-Fouled labyrinth

Figure 7-Rubbed labyrinth

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In order to reduce or negate the performance effects common with damaged


interstage seals, several improvements have been adopted by compressor
manufacturers. Most noteworthy is the use of abradable seals in the impeller eye
and shaft seal areas. The most commonly used material for the abradable
labyrinth is Fluorosint or Nickel-graphite.
Advantages include tighter design operating clearances and minimal efficiency
effects after a seal rub. As shown in Figure 8, tight clearance and turbulence
creates resistance to leakage flow when the seals are new. Even in the rubbed
condition of abradable seal (Figure 9), tight effective running clearance is
unaltered and turbulence continues to create resistance to leakage flow.

Figure 8-New abradable seal

Figure 9-Rubbed abradable seal

1.2.3. Rotor:
The rotor consists of shaft, impellers, sleeves, balance drum and thrust collar.
Impellers:
Impellers are shrunk or keyed or combination of shrink and key mounted on the
shaft depending on the operating speed and prevailing stress levels. Impellers
may be either of the closed (shrouded) or open (shroud less) design. The blades
are generally back-swept to different angles in accordance with the required
performance. The impeller pushes the gas outwards raising its velocity and
pressure. On the disc side, the impeller is exposed to discharge pressure (see
Figure 10) and on the other side partly to the same pressure and partly to suction
pressure. Thus a thrust force is created towards suction.

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Figure 10-Pressure distribution on the impeller

Balance piston seal:


A balance piston (or a center seal) is utilized to compensate for aerodynamic
thrust forces imposed on the rotor due to the pressure rise through a compressor.
The purpose of the balance piston is to utilize the readily available pressure
differentials to oppose and balance most of these thrust forces. This enables the
selection of a smaller thrust bearing, which results in lower horsepower losses.
1.2.4. Shaft end Seals:
Shaft end seals eliminate or minimize the leakage of compressed gas or the
entry of air into the compressor casing. Depending on the nature of the gas to be
compressed and on the degree of sealing to be achieved, different types of seals
may be used.
1.2.4.1. Labyrinth Seals:
They are used when the properties and pressure of a gas permit a
minimal leakage. The labyrinths are made of light alloy or other
corrosion-resistant material and are easily replaceable. The number of
teeth and clearance depend on the operating conditions, as well as the
geometry (plain, step, ring type, honey-comb, etc.). To minimize
leakage, abradable seals are used. In this case the labyrinth teeth are
fitted to the rotor and are in contact with an abradable material on the
stator. When no leakage whatsoever is permissible (poisonous or
explosive gases, etc.) labyrinth seals are combined with extraction
and/or injection systems.
1.2.4.2. Dry Gas Seals:
Sealing is ensured by a gas lock created by the grooves machined into
a rotating seal fitted on the rotor. Depending on the application it is
possible to use gas - taken off the compressor at different levels: first
impeller diffuser, intermediate or discharge nozzles or an insert gas.
Hydrostatic and hydrodynamic forces balance to maintain a clearance
of a few microns between the rotating seals and the stationary face.
This very small clearance reduces gas leakage to a negligible amount.
Different patented solutions are available to temper the seals to
prevent liquid or hydrate formation or for controlling the temperature of
the seal. Extensive experience has been accumulated on dry gas seal
systems that have been developed to meet specific process
requirements.
1.2.4.3. Liquid Film seal (Oil Film Seal):
For cases where the above described “dry” type seals are not
adaptable, the more elaborate oil seal is used. It will produce a positive

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seal preventing the leakage of gas from or atmospheric air into the
casing. In general, due to its appreciable expense and maintenance
requirements, usage of the oil seal is limited to applications where the
pressure level is high, where no leakage is tolerable or where for
reasons of unavailability of sealing gas, dilution of the product gas etc.
Liquid film seals are available in eight general types:
• Labyrinth
• Bushing (Carbon Ring)
• Windback (Reversed Helical Groove Bushing)
• Restricted Bushing (Trapped Bushing)
• Film-Riding Face Seal
• Contacting Face Seal
• Circumferential Seal
• Lip Seal
The liquid film seal or oil film seal is particularly applicable to high
speed machines. The actual seal is accomplished by a thin oil film
supplied by the seal oil pump to a space between the rotating and
stationary seal elements. This oil contacts process gas and must be
degassed before return to the oil reservoir. Contaminated oil must be
reconditioned or discarded.
When handling hazardous, toxic, or emission-regulated gases, the seal
also must prevent gas leakage to the atmosphere after the compressor
has tripped due to seal oil system failure. Various devices within the
seal support system are available to assure that the compressor seal
contains the gas at a standstill, even if no seal oil is being pumped to
the seal. Elevated seal oil tanks can provide for the necessary static
differential pressure of the fluid above the sealing pressure for a
sufficient time to allow the compressor to be depressurized before the
elevated tank oil supply is depleted.
1.2.5. Bearings:
1.2.5.1. Hydrodynamic bearings:
Journal bearings:
Purpose of journal bearing are
Support and distribute rotor weight and forces
Maintain concentricity
Provide stabilizing force
Tilting pad bearings are generally used, and are normally equipped
with thermocouples to monitor the bearing temperature.

Thrust bearings:
Purpose of thrust bearing are,
Absorb axial thrust generated by the pressure differentials on the rotor.
Axially position the rotor with respect to stationary parts.
Double-acting, tilting pad bearings with an equalizing device are
typically installed. The bearing pads can be fitted with thermocouples
for temperature monitoring and with load cells in high pressure
applications to measure axial thrust.
1.2.5.2. Active magnetic bearings:
In recent years several machines have been equipped with active
magnetic bearings. Operating on the principle of electromagnetic
suspension, the active magnetic bearings perform the same functions
as hydrodynamic journal and thrust bearings with two major
advantages:
1. Reduced mechanical losses owing to the absence of friction.
2. Adjustable axial and radial position and stiffness of the rotor and
damping characteristics of the bearings.

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1.3. Impeller and Nozzle arrangements of multistage centrifugal compressor


Multistage compressors can be tailored to allow extremely flexible arrangement of the
impellers and nozzles to meet the process demands of respective users. For example,
the number of impellers in the compressor can be varied from two to more than twelve to
match the head and flow characteristics. The inlet and exhaust nozzles can be arranged
up, down, up and down, or offset at an angle. The additional nozzles for economizers or
other side streams or for cooling between stages can also be easily incorporated in the
most convenient location.
1.3.1. Straight through flow:

This arrangement may employ 10 or more stages of compression. This


arrangement is most often used for low-pressure rise process gas compression.
1.3.2. Double flow:

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This arrangement is used to double the maximum flow capability for a


compressor frame. Since the number of impellers handling each inlet flow is only
half of that of an equivalent straight through machine, the maximum head
capability is reduced accordingly. Most commonly used for the first stage of
compression for the series compression.
1.3.3. Side stream (side load):

Side stream nozzles permit introducing or extracting gas at selected pressure


levels. These flows may be process gas streams or flows from economizers in
refrigeration service. Sideloads may be introduced through the diaphragm
between two stages (sideload 3), or if the flow is high as in sideloads 1 and 2, the
flow may be introduced into mixing section by omitting one or two impellers.
1.3.4. Cooling between the stages (ISO-Cool):
Cooling is required to keep operating temperatures below material or process
limits as well as to improve operating efficiency. Iso-cooling nozzles permit the
hot gas to be extracted from the compressor and to an external heat exchanger,
and then returned to the following stage at reduced temperature for further
compression.

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1.3.5. Back-to-back:
The back to back design minimizes thrust when a high pressure rise is to be
achieved within a single casing. Note that the thrust forces acting across the two
sections act in opposing directions, thus neutralizing one another. The
arrangement is the best when gas must not migrate from the first section to the
second section in an iso-cool compressor.

1.3.6. First Section double flow:

1.3.7. Multi-iso cool:

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1.3.8. Back-to-back with recirculation:

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2. Axial Compressor
2.1. Introduction
Axial flow compressors are used wherever large volume of gas need to be compressed
on the basis of a relatively low intake / discharge pressure ratio (normally upto 1:12).
These machines typically find their industrial application in nitric acid plant, Fluid Catalytic
cracking unit, LNG facilities, air separation plants and as blast furnace blowers. Their
construction is typically extension of the centrifugal compressors.

2.2. Construction of Axial Compressor


The static part of the machine consists of an external fabricated, horizontally split casing,
with an inner casing to hold the stator blading. The first section of stator blading may be
adjustable by external devices for better performance control. Both rotor and stator
blades are designed, for aerodynamic and mechanical behavior. The radial and thrust
bearings are normally the tilting-pad type. Shaft-end seals can be labyrinths with
extraction or buffer systems, oil film seals or dry seals depending on size and service
requirements. All connections such as suction and discharge nozzles, side stream
nozzles (if any) and oil piping are normally fitted to the lower half so that the upper half
becomes an easily removable cover. Following is the brief description on the major part
of a typical axial compressor.
2.2.1. Intake Casing:
The intake casing is fabricated from steel plate and is split horizontally with a
flanged joint that corresponds to the horizontally split casing. Air is directed into
the annular blade passage by means of the inlet volute that is an integral part of
the intake casing. The inlet volute has flow taps that provide flow measurement.
Aerodynamic struts are provided between the inner and outer walls to assist in
stiffening the assembly. The intake connection is rectangular to permit the use of
large, low pressure ducting. The casing assembly is centerline supported through
the feet welded on the sides of the casing. The orientation of the inlet flange can
be either in the upward or downward position.

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2.2.2. Discharge Casing:


The discharge casing is also fabricated from steel plate and is split horizontally
with a flanged joint that corresponds to the horizontally split casing. Air exits the
blade row through the exhaust diffuser and then discharges through a
rectangular flange. The casing assembly is centerline supported through the feet
welded on the sides of the casing. The orientation of the discharge flange can be
either in the upward or downward position.
2.2.3. Stator Casing:
The stator casing, located in the compressor center section between the intake
and discharge casings, is a two piece design manufactured from cast steel. The
stator casing is bolted and doweled to the inlet and discharge casings. The inner
wall of the stator casing is precision machined to provide the proper clearance
between the rotating blades.
2.2.4. Inlet guide vanes:
Inlet guide vanes are located upstream of the first stage of compression and
provide for the proper pre-rotation of the air into the rotating blades.
2.2.5. Stator Vanes:
A machine may be supplied with fixed stator vanes throughout or a combination
of variable and fixed stator vanes. When a combination is supplied,
approximately the first half of the stages, including inlet guide vanes, are
variable.
Stator Vanes (Fixed):
The fixed stator vanes are welded into inner and outer shroud rings that are
horizontally split in halves to facilitate assembly into the casing. The inner shroud
ring supports two sealing strips that reduce interstage leakage. Each stator vane
assembly fits into a machined groove in the stator casing.
Stator Vanes (Continuously Variable):
Each variable stator vane is welded to a shank on each end. The inner shank
passes through an inner shroud ring that is split into eight sections to facilitate
assembly into the casing. The inner shroud ring supports two seal rings that
minimize interstage leakage. Each vane is attached to the inner shroud ring with
a special locking mechanism that reduces friction and maintains a secure fit.
The shank on the outer end of the vane passes through a stator bearing support
insert in the stator casing. The stator bearing support has carbon bushings at
each end that provides a bearing surface for continuous variable movement. A
drive ring assembly is fastened to this end of the shank.
Stator Vane Drive Mechanism:
All of the variable vanes are adjusted simultaneously by each drive ring being
linked to a common drive shaft that is automatically adjusted by an
Electrohydraulic actuator.
2.2.6. Exit Guide Vanes:
The exit guide vanes are similar in construction to the fixed stator vanes except
that there are no seal strips on the inner shroud. These vanes reduce the exit
swirl velocity from the rotating blades and provide an axial velocity into the
discharge diffuser.
2.2.7. Rotor Assembly:
The rotor assembly consists of the intake and discharge end stub shafts, rotor
discs, rotor blades, and tie bolts. The tie bolts pass through fitted holes in the
rotor discs and stub shafts. The tie bolts are hydraulically stretched during the
rotor assembly. The rotor discs are machined from steel forgings. The single
dovetail slots in the disc are manufactured by the broaching process. The rotor
blades are made from forged bar and one end of the blade is formed into a

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dovetail section that fits into the disc. The blades are held in place axially by
removable locking tabs that fit between the blade and disc.
2.2.8. Balance Piston:
The balance piston is an integral part of the rotor stub shaft on the discharge
end. The stationary labyrinth is supported by the discharge casing.
2.2.9. Shaft Seals:
Labyrinth type shaft seals are provided on each end of the rotor.
2.2.10. Bearing Housings
The bearing housings are horizontally split for access to all of the bearing parts
without having to disassemble the top half of the casing. The bearing housing
brackets are bolted and doweled to the casing.

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