Experience with compressor valve modelling has shown that reciprocating compressor performance can sometimes be improved by subtle changes in valve design. Modelling has led to a better understanding of the physical behaviour of valves and of the compression process. Three compressor valve studies presented here demonstrate the benefits of valve modelling.

Case 1 challenges the commonly held assumption that reducing the lift of a compressor valve will reduce the efficiency of the compressor. The capacity of this compressor is increased by reducing the valve lift. A plot of BHP/MMSCFD versus valve lift shows an inflection point that assists the analyst in optimizing the design. Case 1 also presents a method of calculating the economic effect of improvements in valve performance.

Case 2 demonstrates the effect of inadequate flow area through the valve. Pressure in the clearance volume cannot decrease fast enough if flow areas are inadequate; the result is late valve closure, and therefore decreased valve life.

Case 3 shows the importance of considering the design of the cylinder casting in addition to that of the valves. Here, insufficient cylinder flow area constricted gas flow.

Since these cases were simulated, the analyst had the opportunity to evaluate the proposed solution over the entire range of operating conditions. He was able to select a valve which solved the immediate problem and be confident that it would perform adequately throughout the specified range of conditions.

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