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2008GMC Paper

Demonstration of Efficient Pulsation Control Using Tuned Loop Networks – GMRC Research Review

W. Norman Shade, PE – ACI Services; Glen F. Chatfield, Optimum Power Technology

Traditional compressor pulsation attenuation systems are carefully designed combinations 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 result in additional system pressure losses upstream and downstream of the compressor cylinders. These pressure losses reduce the overall system efficiency, but the trade-offs are 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), system pressure losses can noticeably degrade the overall operating efficiency, especially with the use of higher speed (>600 rpm) compressors. Using finite amplitude wave simulation technology, the application of tuned pulsation attenuation networks on reciprocating compressors was investigated in detail. As reported in a 2007 GMC paper, the computer models and simulations showed that properly configured multiple tuned pulsation attenuation networks could be an effective means of controlling compressor pulsations with little or no resultant system pressure loss. The next step in the validation of this promising concept has been to design, build, and test an actual system for experimental evaluation under controlled laboratory test conditions. This new paper reports the results of a two-loop attenuation network configured on a 500 to 1050 rpm air compressor arrangement having four 4 in. diameter, 3 in. stroke single acting ends that effectively behave as two double-acting cylinders operating in parallel. Test results are compared with predictions showing the effective cancellation of pulsations with minimal system pressure drop. Further, the paper describes the design of a tuned pulsation attenuation network that will be retrofitted and tested on an actual 750 to 1000 rpm, 6 in. stroke compressor in a natural gas pipeline compressor station.

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