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Typical PFD for Centrifugal Compressor Systems


The following figure-1 represents a typical process flow diagram (PFD) for a compressor system.
Common equipments included in such systems are compressors, driver motors or turbines, suction
knock out drums (KOD) to remove traces of liquid from the gas going into the compressor and
aftercoolers which help lower the temperature of the discharge gas from compressor. Often antisurge controllers along with anti-surge valves are also part of this system to avoid operating the
compressor at surge conditions.
Centrifugal
compressors
are typically
driven by an
electric motor
or a steam
turbine. The
sample PFD in
figure-1
indicates use of
an electric
motor. The
driver motor or
turbine is
connected to
the compressor
by a shaft which
can rotate at
different
speeds for
which the motor
Figure 1 - Typical PFD for a centrifugal compressor system
or turbine is
designed.
Compressor manufacturer creates a compressor map which is essentially a graph of compressor
curves plotted at different rotational speed (RPM) values. For a given value of gas flow though the
compressor, discharge pressure of can be controlled by controlling the rotational speed of the
driver. Hence a pressure controller installed on the compressor discharge stream, sends a signal to
the driver motor or turbine to control the rotational speed. Sometimes a compressor performance
controller can be used which takes into account a lot of other parameters than just the discharge
pressure, to effectively maintain the rotational speed.
Presence of small liquid droplets in the gas compressor can be damaging to the compressor.
Hence Knock Out Drums (KOD) at compressor suction are desirable to remove even small traces
of liquid droplets from gas going to the compressor. These compressor suction drums may be
equipped with demister pads and wire mesh to improve the efficiency of liquid droplet removal.
When gas is compressed the gas temperature also rises along with its pressure, since there is not
enough time to vent the heat to atmosphere. Often high temperatures of the compressed gas are
not desirable hence air coolers can be installed at the compressor discharge to enable temperature
control of the discharge gas. These are known as compressor aftercoolers.
Compressor surge is seen as a very dangerous and detrimental phenomenon for compressor
systems, because it causes the compressor to vibrate and damages the compressor parts.
Compressor surge occurs due to high back pressure on the compressor discharge so that very

small gas flow can be pushed through. This is indicated by a surge line on any compressor map. To
avoid compressor surge the back pressure at compressor has to be lowered so that more gas flow
can be circulated through the compressors. This can be accomplished by an anti-surge controller
which opens the anti-surge valves so that excess pressure from the compressor discharge is
vented to the compressor suction KOD. The anti-surge valves also enable more gas flow to be
circulated through the system, avoiding prolonged compressor operation in the surge conditions.