Voices: McMillan & Weiner

Fine points of compressor surge control

Compressor damage and costly production outages can be prevented by attention to surge curves, control strategies and valve response.

By Greg McMillan and Stan Weiner
May 12, 2016

*Greg*: I learned early in my career that compressor surge is the fastest phenomenon that occurs in process industries around turbomachinery, and with the most disastrous consequences. We had huge axial air compressors whose acceleration upon surge during tests was measured to be 2,000 rpm/sec from the unloading during flow reversal. We used a derivative module to trip the compressor in less than a second. While this compressor was undoubtedly special, the fact remains that when a compressor goes into surge, the compressor flow can reverse direction in less than 0.02 seconds. It’s like running up a hill and just as you get to the top, you come to a cliff, can’t stop in time and go over the edge.

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