Compression systems are designed and operated in a manner to eliminate or minimize the potential for surge, which is a dynamic instability that is very detrimental to the integrity of the compressor unit. Compressor surge can occur when compressors are subjected to rapid transients such as those occurring following an emergency shutdown (ESD) or a power failure, which in turn, requires fast reaction. To prevent this from occurring, compressor stations are designed with single or dual recycle systems with recycle valves, which are required to open upon ESD. There has been extensive debate and confusion as to whether a single recycle or a dual recycle system is required and the circumstances and the conditions under which one system or the other must be used. This paper discusses this crucial design issue in detail and highlights the parameters affecting the decision to employ either system, particularly for high pressure ratio, low inertia compressors. Parameters such as gas volume capacitance (V) in the recycle path, compressor power train inertia, compressor performance characteristics, the recycle valve coefficient (Cv), prestroke and stroke time, and check valve dynamic characteristic are crucial in determining the conditions for dynamic instabilities. A simple analytical methodology based on the perturbation theory is developed that provides a first-cut analysis to determine if a single recycle system is adequate for a given compression system. The concept of an inertia number is then introduced with a threshold value that determines which recycle system to use. Techniques to circumvent compressor surge following ESD are discussed and their respective effectiveness are highlighted including when and if a delay in the fuel cutoff will be effective. An example of a case study with actual field data of a high pressure ratio centrifugal compressor employed in a natural gas compressor station is presented to illustrate the fundamental concept of single versus dual recycle systems.

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