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Reciprocating Compressor Reliability

  • Date Submitted: 04/06/2011 10:59 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 51.1 
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Availability, Reliability and Maintainability
Ian D. MacKenzie Process & Energy Business Unit Peter Brotherhood Ltd, Peterborough England, U.K.

The Recip - A State of the Art Compressor


The reputation of the Reciprocating Compressor has suffered over the years due to prejudices and misconceptions regarding various aspects of its design and construction. Furthermore, there is a belief amongst operators, rotating equipment engineers and buyers within the industry, that they are generally unreliable and are at best difficult and expensive to maintain. Prejudices have been perpetuated by amongst others, manufactures of alternative designs of compressor. In the past, much of this bad reputation may well have been deserved, however, in my opinion this is no longer the case. In this paper I discuss these prejudices and try to separate some of the facts from fiction.

1 Introduction The *A.R.M. Criteria is a relatively new concept, being introduced some ten years ago. However, its basic principles have been relevant since the first compressors can into existence.Although the three criteria are applied together and are inter-related, each has a quite specific meaning which is sometimes misunderstood. In this paper I will first give the most commonly accepted definitions for A, R and M, then go on to discuss the factors that can affect them. Prejudices and misconceptions clearly exist with regard to the Recip, especially when being compared to the alternative designs.These can vary from minor differences of opinion which have no real influence on the machine type selection, to very significant difference of opinions which may result in a Recip being effectively precluded from consideration.For example, when for a critical service, 2 Recips are specified as an alternative to 1 Screw or 1 Centrifugal compressor. There is no doubt that in the past the Recip has deserved some of it’s bad reputation for a variety of reasons which I will discuss later in...


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