A Centrifugal Compressor is a key component in the Oil and Gas Industry. It is used in all 3 areas of extraction, processing and transportation, namely, upstream, midstream and downstream. Generally a compressor’s life expectancy matches that of the wells it is used on. Barring retrofits and maintenance, a compressor can remain onsite for up to 20 years.
However, at the end of the life of the well or in special conditions with perennial low flow rates, the reduced gas flow rate pushes the compressor to the left of its operating limit. At this point, the compressor surges. In order to bring it back to the normal operating conditions, flow is recirculated via an external circuit involving the anti-surge valve. This drops the flange to flange performance. A simpler method would be to recycle the flow internally, thus removing the losses from the external circuit.
In this paper, internal flow recirculation is studied where flow is extracted from the stage diffuser and recycled back to the upstream return channel. This study was undertaken on a 2D impeller from the lowest flow coefficient stage of an OEM. Using 1D tools and detailed CFD methods to study this novel design, it is shown that the range can be shifted significantly.