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Investigation Concerning the Aerothermodynamic Performance Perturbation of a 19MW Intercooled Air Compressor

[+] Author Affiliations
Inam U. Haq

SABIC Research & Technology, Jubail, Saudi Arabia

Ali H. Al-Jameel, Khalid N. Al-Khalidi

National Industrial Gases Company (GAS), Jubail, Saudi Arabia

Paper No. 2000-GT-0343, pp. V002T03A001; 8 pages
  • ASME Turbo Expo 2000: Power for Land, Sea, and Air
  • Volume 2: Coal, Biomass and Alternative Fuels; Combustion and Fuels; Oil and Gas Applications; Cycle Innovations
  • Munich, Germany, May 8–11, 2000
  • Conference Sponsors: International Gas Turbine Institute
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-7855-2
  • Copyright © 2000 by ASME


This paper investigates the performance problem of a large capacity multistage centrifugal air compressor when operated continuously for an extended period of time without overhauling. The compressor flow constitutes fifty percent of the plant production and plays a critical role in meeting the annual contract capacity and can not tolerate performance instability due to high intercooler temperatures, ambient conditions and, fouling of the internal components. During a recent harsh summer operation, the compressor was undergone to surge many times and prompted to initiate a performance evaluation study to identify the cause(s) of surge and the extent of performance deterioration. High cooling water supply temperature and ambient conditions crippled the performance of the compressor. Engineering analysis identified the excessive accumulation of condensed water in the water chamber of the second intercooler as the most logical reason of the compressor surge during the instances of high ambient conditions i.e. relative humidity and temperature greater than 80% and 35°C, respectively. During heavy load of condensed water, the blockage and insufficient size of the condensate drain caused build up of water level in the water collecting chamber which offered instantaneous hindrance to airflow to the next section and, hence, led to the compressor surge. During normal ambient conditions, the overall performance of the compressor was found satisfactory when compared with the commissioning after a long term of continuous operation without maintenance.

Copyright © 2000 by ASME
Topics: Air compressors



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