Technologies to Enhance Operation of the Existing Natural Gas Compression Infrastructure
This paper addresses the opportunities to increase pipeline capacity by increasing overall efficiency of pipeline compressors. As a result of early road-mapping, DOE’s Natural Gas Infrastructure Reliability Program set a goal to increase pipeline capacity ten percent without changing the infrastructure. At any time, the useful compression power available from pipeline compressor drivers set a limit on the system’s maximum capacity. In its third year, the project “Technologies to Enhance Operation of the Existing Natural Gas Compression Infrastructure” has emphasized reducing compression losses; these losses limit useful gas compression power and thereby limit capacity. Some years ago, a survey by GMRC showed that integral reciprocating compressors can achieve 90 to 92 percent thermal efficiency in pipeline service. However, the median lay far below this benchmark, leaving substantial system-wide opportunity for improvement. The paper reviews the numerous contributors to compressor losses, overviews technologies to measure them, and discusses the opportunities for their cost-effective, documentable reduction. Recent program tests on three different, but widely deployed, integral engine/compressor models have confirmed achievability of over 90 percent s a benchmark thermal efficiency. Through an initial screening process, the research program will identify a target compressor, whose thermal efficiency lies well below the benchmark. Detailed testing on the selected compressor, followed by a design study will quantify the opportunities for beneficial change, both within the compressor cylinders and in the compressor installation (nozzle, manifold, pulsation control hardware, and laterals). Further tests will quantify the efficiency increase achieved by implementing these changes. After its review of compression losses, the paper presents evolving progress in implementing this plan.
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