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What is surge in centrifugal compressor?

Surge is the phenomenon which occurs when the compressor falls below some minimum value. This is the minimum flow required at a given speed for the compressor to maintain stable operation and is referred to as surge flow. Surge is the characterized by the oscillations in compressor flow and internal pressure, increased rotor vibration and rapid temperature increase. If the compressor is operating in surge, even for short period of time it will cause serious damage to the compressor. Hence the compressor will operate below the surge region and also anti surge system is incorporated in all centrifugal compressors. Surge control for centrifugal compressors: Surge is generally prevented by recycling gas from the compressor discharge line to the suction line or in the case of air compressor, by venting a part of discharge to the atmosphere. This prevents excessive discharge pressure build up and allows additional flow through the machine. If the gas is recycled to the suction line, it must be cooled to prevent heat build up with in the compressor.

Surge Control Line at Variable speed of centrifugal compressor

The figure shows a typical head versus flow curve for various speeds. The black line shows the actual surge limit line. The surge limit line for a given compressor suction is known approximately from performance calculation and/or confirmed by the result. From the shows that the surge limit line goes through the peak head point on each curve of constant speed. To the right of surge limit line the compressor operation is stable. For a small distribution the equilibrium will be re-established. A small decrease in discharge pressure causes an increase in flow, which increase the discharge pressure. The flow continuous to decrease and may reverse rotor completely, hence it will induce surge of compressor. The surge of centrifugal compressor is controlled by two method as follows

Flow control method Speed control Method

Flow control method is widely used in most of the industrial compressor. To know more about in Anti-Surge control system. Frequency of surging: The frequency of the surging cycle varies inversely with the volume of the system. For example a Non Return Valve (NRV) is located near to the compressor discharge nozzle; the frequency will be correspondingly much higher than the system without NRV. The frequency can be as low as a few cycles per minute to 20 or more cycle per minute. General higher the frequency, lower the intensity.

Frequency Of Surge Curve The cycle of the centrifugal compressor during surge shows that the the rotor moves from the operating point (B) to Surge point (C) and back to operating point (B) of the surge curve at a frequency of 0.33 to 3 Hertz. Due to the sudden change in frequency or the oscillation of rotor tends to increase the intensity or violence of surge tends to increase with

the increasing of gas density, which is directly related to molecular weight and pressure. Generally higher differential pressure will increase the intensity of surging. Design factor affecting surging: During designing a centrifugal compressor, if the number of impellers in a given casing will tend to reduce the stable range of the compressor. This is due to the imbalance of thrust force created across the impeller. Similarly, so does the number of sections of compression, or the number of casings in series will tends to increase the phenomenon of surge. The large majority of centrifugals use vaneless diffusers, which are simple flow channels with parallel walls, without elements inside to guide the flow. The trajectory of a particle (gas molecules) through a vaneless diffuser is a spiral of about one-half the circumferential distance around the diffuser. If this distance becomes longer for any reason, the flow is exposed to more wall friction which dissipates the kinetic energy. As flow is reduced, the angle is reduced which extends the length of the trajectory through the diffuser. When the flow path is too long, insufficient pressure rise (head) is developed and surge occurs.

Vane-less Diffuser Occasionally, vane diffusers are used to force the flow to take a shorter, more efficient path due to the guidance of the vane diffuser. The vaned diffuser can increase the aerodynamic efficiency of a stage by approximately 3 to 4%, but this efficiency gain results in a narrower operating span on the head-capacity curve with respect to both surge and stonewall. At flows higher than design, impingement occurs on the trailing side of the diffuser vane creating shock losses which tend to bring on stonewall. Conversely, flow less than design encourages surge, due to the shock losses from impingement on the leading edge of the vane. Despite adverse effects on surge, the vaned diffuser should be applied where efficiency is of utmost importance, particularly with small high-speed wheels. Stationary guide vanes

may be used to direct the flow to the eye of the impeller. Depending upon the head requirements of an individual stage, these vanes may direct the flow in the same direction as the rotation or tip speed of the wheel, an action known as pre-rotation or pre-swirl. The opposite action is known as counter-rotation or counter swirl. Guide vanes set at zero degrees of swirl are called radial guide vanes. The pre-swirl of gas before entering in the eye of the impeller will reduce the head developed by the impeller or unload the impeller their by surge of the compressor is also reduced. On their hand in counter swirl the will increase the head developed by the impeller their by the tendency of surging is also increased. These are some of the cause for surge apart from the design factors

Chocking in suction strainer Closing or throttling of discharge or suction valve. Changing in pressure or composition of gas due to the change in process condition. Mis-position of rotor in the casing.

Sudden change in speed of compressor ( in the case turbine drive sudden failure of governor) Effect of Surge: At the time of surging the temperature of gas is in rising trend, due to the rise of temperature the bearing and seals were damaged. If the duration of surge is increased in the compressor then it will cause serious damage to the machine or the system. It will increase the lateral vibration of the rotor shaft and damage the thrust bearing, diaphragm and also produce torsional damage to the coupling and gear units.