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The Impact of Reciprocating Compressor Pulsations on the Surge Margin of Centrifugal Compressors
Suction or discharge pulsations in pressure and flow have the capability to move a centrifugal compressor into surge or choke. This is of special concern in mixed pipeline compressor stations where centrifugal compressors operate in series or parallel with reciprocating compressors. Over the last 30 years several authors have discussed the impact of piping flow pulsations on centrifugal compressor stability, and specifically on the impact on surge margin and performance. For example, Sparks (1983), Kurz et al (2006), and Brun et al. (2014) provided analysis and numerical predictions on the impact of discrete and periodic pressure pulsation on the behavior of a centrifugal compressor. This interaction came to be known as the “Compressor Dynamic Response (CDR) Theory”. CDR Theory explains how pulsations are amplified or reduced by a compression system’s acoustic response characteristic superimposed on the compressor head-flow map. Although the CDR Theory describes the impact of the nearby piping system on the compressor surge and pulsation amplification, it provides only limited usefulness as a quantitative analysis tool, primarily due to the lack of numerical prediction tools and test data for comparison. Recently, Brun et al (2014) utilized an efficient 1-D transient Navier-Stokes flow solver to predict CDR in real life compression systems. However, although interesting, the fundamental problem with both Spark’s and Brun’s approach was that no experimental data was available to validate the analytical and numerical predictions. Tests were performed over a range of pulsation excitation amplitudes, frequencies, and pipe geometry variations to determine the impact of piping impedance and resonance response. Detailed transient velocity and pressure measurements were taken utilizing a hot wire anemometer and dynamic pressure transducers near the compressor’s suction and discharge flanges. Steady-state flow, pressure, and temperature data was also recorded with ASME PTC-1
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