Resolution of a Compressor Valve Failure: A Case Study
The commissioning date of three critical path ethylene compressors at a Belgian chemical plant was in jeopardy because the original compressor valves installed by the client failed within hours of start-up on the final stage of compression. The original valve supplier attempted to resolve the failures twice, without success. The failed design was evaluated by the OEM and determined to have marginal reliability characteristics, so an alternative OEM plate valve design was proposed to maximize valve life. Although a slight decrease in compressor efficiency was expected with the alternative valve technology, the client deemed this an acceptable compromise to meet his production schedule. The new valves were installed in April 1999 and continue to run without problems.