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2011GMC Paper

Thinking Outside the Bottle! - The Use of Performance Augmentation Networks to Increase Compressor Efficiency

W. Norman Shade, Glen F. Chatfield,

Intake and exhaust manifold systems are integral parts of modern high-performance reciprocating engines, enabling major increases in efficiency, specific power output and emissions control. In contrast, the intake (suction) and exhaust (discharge) systems of compressors are generally an after-thought having the primary purpose of reducing pressure pulsations to tolerable levels. Compressor “manifold” systems reduce pulsations by adding damping that causes pressure losses, reducing the overall compression system efficiency. Improperly designed pulsation control systems increase the adiabatic horsepower required from the compressor cylinders, especially on higher speed compressors. Research over the last five years has explored the development of compressor suction and discharge systems that reduce system pressure losses, while simultaneously augmenting and increasing the compressor efficiency and specific flow output. Previous GMC papers have reported the results of computer simulation studies, lab testing, and field testing of reciprocating compressors with tuned performance augmentation networks (PANTM). Simulations and actual tests confirmed that properly configured PANs were effective in controlling compressor pulsations with very little system pressure loss. Field testing, in cooperation with El Paso Corporation, further confirmed that pulsation bottles, choke-tubes and orifices could be successfully eliminated from reciprocating compressor systems, replaced by PANs that demonstrated excellent pulsation control, acceptable vibration, and 60 to 80 percent less system pressure loss on low ratio, variable speed pipeline applications. While earlier papers reported PAN developments that utilized a combination of wye-branches and delay loops to control pulsations with reduced system pressure losses, this paper focuses on more recent research with advanced compressor manifold systems that (similar to modern high-performance engines) tune the entire compressor system to increase the suction pressure when the cylinder’s suction valves are open and reduce the discharge pressure when the discharge valves are open. This provides a major breakthrough that reduces the required adiabatic horsepower by as much as 15 percent, in addition to eliminating more than 90 percent of the typical pulsation control system pressure losses. For low compression ratio applications, the combined horsepower reductions with PAN systems can reach 30 percent compared with conventional bottle/choke-tube/orifice systems. In addition to briefly recapping the evolution of this technology, this paper describes in detail the PAN design, simulation, predicted performance and retrofit process for a 6-throw, 8000 HP, single stage compressor on a major pipeline. Snapshots of computer simulations are used to demonstrate how the technology is applied, and the advanced design processes for optimizing the performance of an entire compression system over a wide range of speed, pressure and unloading conditions.

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