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2017GMC Paper

Basics of Compressor Valve Design and Troubleshooting

Ben Boutin and Patrick Taylor, HOERBIGER Corporation of America, Inc.

Analysis, Maintenance, Operations

Compressor valves used in natural gas applications are carefully selected and configured to deliver long life and good flow performance. In spite of this, valves are often the limiting component in many applications.

Valve design requires a compromise between performance, reliability and cost. Design features which add strength and reliability to valves often create flow restrictions which increase horsepower consumption or require additional components which can themselves become sources of failure. More aerodynamic flow geometries and advanced materials can reduce valve loss or provide increased reliability, but these features can increase the manufacturing cost of the valve and also make it more difficult to repair.

As compressor applications become more technically challenging, valve designs need to evolve along with the compressors that use them. With the large variety of valve types on the market today, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction.

This Short Course presents valve design, configuration, and troubleshooting information that explains:

  • how sealing elements and other internal components behave throughout the compression cycle
  • why there are so many types of valves available today
  • the problems that an R&D team addresses when creating a new valve design
  • how Application Engineers configure valves so that they are not only efficient but also reliable
  • how capacity control is achieved using finger unloaders and plugs
  • how to handle and inspect valves that have been returned from the field so that performance can be properly assessed
  • common failure modes of plate and ring valves and corrective actions

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