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2007GMC Paper

An Investigation of the Application of Finite Amplitude Wave Tuning Technology for Controlling Reciprocating Compressor Pulsations

Norm Shade & Chad Brahler, ACI Services, Inc./Glen Chatfield & John Crandall, Optimum Power Technology

Effective control of the pressure pulsations generated by reciprocating compressors is necessary to prevent damaging shaking forces and stresses in system piping, vessels and mechanical equipment and structures, as well as to prevent detrimental time-variant suction and discharge pressures at the compressor cylinder flanges. Historically, pulsation control has been derived through the use of GMRC analog methodology and in recent years with high-end digital acoustic pulsation analysis programs. These system analyses are used to define the system elements required for control of pulsations upstream and downstream of the compressor cylinders. Pressure pulsations are typically controlled with a carefully designed system of primary and/or secondary volume bottles, often with complex internal choke tubes, baffles, and chambers, as well as various orifice plates installed at specific locations in the system piping. These devices accomplish pulsation control by adding resistance, or damping, to the system, and they virtually always result in some additional system pressure losses upstream and downstream of the compressor cylinders. While these pressure losses reduce the overall system efficiency the trade-offs are reasonable and tolerable for most compressor applications. However, for common pipeline transmission applications having low pressure ratios (in the range of about 1.1 to 1.6) these system pressure losses can noticeably degrade system operating efficiency. As larger high-speed compressors have been increasingly applied to pipeline transmission applications, these effects have become more detrimental to performance, due to the higher frequency pulsations that must be dampened. In extreme cases in the field, traditional methods of pulsation control have been reported to add as much as 20 percent to the driver horsepower requirements for high-speed, low-ratio compressors. Finite amplitude wave technology has long been successfully applied to two-stroke engines to increase specific output and reduce exhaust emissions. Advanced computational technology exists for modeling and designing effective engine tuning systems for high-performance racing, recreational and industrial engine applications. Initial theoretical studies exploring the adaptation of this technology to higher pressure, mixed-gas composition, closed system compressor applications has shown dramatic potential, including control of pulsations to 1.0 percent peak-to-peak over a reasonable speed range with less than 0.1 percent overall system pressure drop. The results of further theoretical and experimental modeling are presented to evaluate the potential extension of this technology for the efficient control of reciprocating compressor pulsations.

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