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BHEL Hyderabad is the only organization in the public sector in India

actively involved in manufacturing high-pressure centrifugal compressors
for the industrial applications. These are employed for the use in Fertilizer
industry, Steel Industry, Refineries, Petrochemical plants, Pipe Line, Gas
booster for Gas Turbines etc.

BHEL started manufacturing compressors with technical know-how

from Nuovo pignone of italy, the world leaders in compressor technology,
BHEL - Hyderabad has been at the forefront of the latest developments in
compressor Technology. BHEL’s endeavour is to offer quality products,
designed to international standards, through dedicated service. A new
addition to the wide range of Centrifugal Compressors is the integrally
geared and packed SRL Compressors popularly known as ‘ API 672
Compressors ‘.



The entire product range of BHEL compressors is broadly divided

into fourteen models of MCL & 2MCL casings and eight models of BCL &
2BCL casings, making it possible to choose the optimum size of casing for
any capacity. For higher operating pressures, the casings of BCL & 2BCL
type have been further graded into five pressure levels, enabling selection of
right casing thickness.

Features of different models are discussed below

A) Horizontally Split Compressor


These are multistage compressors for low and medium pressures with
horizontally split casings. The horizontally split casing is either fabricated
from plates or made of steel castings according to the duty of the
compressor. The fabricated casing has several advantages and is preferred
over cast construction. The journal bearings and thrust bearings are of the
tilted pad type.

MCL TYPE : These compressors can be utilized in fertilizer plants, ethylene

plants, lube oil plants, refinery processes, city gas distribution etc.
2 MCL TYPE : These compressors are provided with intermediate suction
and discharge nozzles.

B) Vertically Split Compressor ( Process )


C) Vertically split Compressor ( Pipeline )

PCL Compressures for high pressures.

D) Integrally geared

SRL 250 Compressors for low and medium pressures

Compressor Model Designation

2 BCL 40 7 / A

2 = No of phases

BCL = Constuctional feature

40 = Nominal Impeller dia ( cm )

7 = No of Impellers

A = Pressure rating ( Up to 350 Atm )

Following are some of the developments in the recent past in the

centrifugal compressors field.
- Multistage horizontal split casing design with design of 3D
Impellers to maximize polytropic efficiency.
- Optimal design of impeller geometry adapted for low flow
conditions (by slot welding technology for external welded
- Standard stage concept for optimum selection to suit any specific
- Fabrication of Casings
- Compressors with high pressure ratios for process air service
( SRL type of compressors)
- Compressor for highly corrosive service.
- Some more features.

Multistage horizontal split casing design with 3D impellers:

Larger plant capacities call for higher sizes of compressor models and
hence increase the project costs. To make the models more competitive a
careful study has been made in evolving 3D impellers with aerodynamic
flow channels. Especially where the tip mach number is more than 0.85 e.g.
for gases having high molecular weight or when operated at low
temperatures (say 300 C) it is necessary to design the flow channel more
aerodynamically. Any mismatch between the vane orientation and the flow
direction results in higher incidence losses and thus affecting the overall
efficiency of the machine, resulting in narrow operating range. By analytical
study the flow channel can be made smoother which however results in 3
dimensional shape of impeller vane profile.
A computer package program for design of 3D impeller has been
program gives an optimum set of 3 dimensional co- ordinates for the
impeller vane geometry. Acceptable geometry can be arrived at by observing
velocity distributions in the passage.

Following are the merits in the design of 3D –impellers.

1. Higher polytropic efficiency:

The following data indicates qualitatively the improvement in efficiency of

3D -impellers over 2D- impellers.
Mach No inlet flow 2D impeller 3D impeller % improvement
coefficient efficiency efficiency in efficiency of
3D impeller over
2D impeller

0.85 0.08 75% 81.5 % ( 8.6 )

ii. Higher polytropic head coefficient:

Mach No inlet flow 2D impeller 3D impeller % improvement

coefficient head co- head co-
efficient efficient

0.85 0.08 0.4875 0.566 16%

From the above, it is clear that because of higher efficiency of 3D

impellers the compressor power consumption will be low. The aspect of
higher polytropic head combining with higher tip speeds results in less
number of impellers for a given compressors ratio. Hence the design of the
machine becomes more compact.
With the twisted blade geometry at the inducer portion conventional
methods are not suitable for manufacturing 3D impellers. These impellers
are manufactured by using five axis NC milling machining facility. Another
method to produce impellers is by precision casting.
Though the manufacturing cost of the impellers are high, the
difference in the cost between 2 dimensional impeller design and 3D
impeller design gets compensated with in an tear because low operational
cost and compactness of the machine in case of 3D impellers.



Considering requirement of impellers handling low flows specially

for high-pressure compressors a new chapter in manufacturing technology of
impellers geometry is thus opened. This has incidentally helped in extending
the range of operation of impellers.
The basic fact in the design of impellers is that higher the outlet
vane angle higher the head coefficient and higher flow handling capacity.
This means we have to employ low outlet angles for impeller vanes handling
low flow. Generally for vanes angles less than 37.5 degrees, we require long
channel passages. It is difficult to manufacture these impellers by any
traditional methods. The efficiency and head realized in this case are
definitely low.

External welded impeller manufacturing technology has over come

the above difficulties. The steps of the manufacturing technology essentially
are the following.
- Milling on vertical NC machines.
- Milling of vanes on disc.
- Corresponding slot milling on second forged disc.
- Welding.
- Matching of vane centerline with corresponding slot centerline
within an accuracy of 0.1 mm and fusion of parent material on to
the vane material by TIG pulses.
- After the root fusion the remaining groove is filled with weld
deposit by manual or automatic means.


- Design of impeller geometry can be aimed for low flows with low
vane angles without any sacrifice in efficiency (By way of having
higher b2/D2 ratio)
- The operating range with these impellers is more than impeller
employed with a compromise due to manufacturing constraint.
- Impellers calling for the design with outlet vane angles in the range
of 15 to 180, results in long channel passages, hence appreciably
better guidance for the flow.
- Because of no weld deposit in the gas passages the flow channels
are clean. The improved surface finish has its own contributions to
the overall efficiency.


Centrifugal compressors belong to the ‘ Tailor made ‘ category

product. However keeping in view of short delivery requirements cycles for
the product and availability of powerful computer systems led to possibility
of standardization of no. of components. In this effort the main focus is on
the basic element of the compressor i.e. the impeller with diaphragm known
as a stage.

The variety of industrial gases to be handled with molecular weights

ranging from 3 to 120 makes the design more complex. Molecular weight is
a very important factor affecting the operational speeds, geometry of
impeller etc.

Standard impeller are based on the following philosophy:

- Inlet capacity coefficient has been split into different ranges.

- For each range of capacity coefficient a family of impeller geometry is
developed with different outlet angles yielding different levels of head
- Series of impeller geometry in a family developed by further splitting the
range of capacity coefficients. Acceptable geometry of the impeller is
arrived at observing the basic necessities of relative velocity ratios and
minimum disturbance of the flow angle with respect to the vane angle.

Impeller family Range of inlet capacity Outlet vane angle

Identification coefficient x 10-4 of the impeller

B 189 – 1275 580

Q 180 – 564 450
F 43 – 210 150 – 160 - 170
Effective selections can be made by processing through computer by
varying the parameters such as impeller diameter, speed, family of impeller
group etc. The selection is accepted on the criteria of power absorbed and
the range of operations.

Following are the merits in this concept.

- Storing of mass data of impeller geometry on computer system makes it

convenient to generate different kinds of information required for predicting
the critical speed of the machine, stresses in the impellers, vibrational
amplitude. Through a plotter program it is possible even to generate the
cross-section of the compressor stages.
- Selection of the impeller geometry is made, for which the performance is
established through actual tests or extrapolated from the test results of the
similar family. Thus makes the performance predictions more reliable.
- Engineering cycle time is reduced to a greatest extent because of the fact
pre-planning can be done for the engineering documents, tooling schedules
- Advance planning of raw materials like forgings and castings with
minimum allowances for final finishing.

These impellers can be made by any one of the conventional methods

viz. vane welding type, milling and welding type, electro erosion and the
slot welding process.



Single and multistage compressors for low and medium pressures, are
mainly used as blowers or boosters in industries, refineries and
petrochemicals plants, when large volumes of gases have to be handled at
low pressures and a packaged, integrally geared design is required for
compactness and economy.

New series of SRL Compressors have been developed for process air
requirement with high-pressure ratios. The new series of compressors use
independent impellers, each of one being driven at its own optimum speed
by means of an integral bull gear and pinion assembly. Overall pressure ratio
with air can exceed 20:1.

These compressors can be designed and manufactured for supplying air-to-

air separation unit.


In addition to the introduction of the latest developments enumerated above

a new compressor has been developed to handle highly corrosive gas. This is
specifically significant, as it is a case of imported substitution.
The cross section of the compressor is a single stage over hung design since
the pressure head required to be developed is low. The major components
are made of austenite stainless steel material. The compressor is provided
with single set of oil seals arrangement to seal the gas leaking from the shaft
ends to atmosphere. An auxiliary seal oil system is provided to perform the
duty. Bearing housing is rigidly clamped to the casing with suitable
locations in the casing.


- Provisions of two kinds of sealing at the shaft ends for the compressors
handling cryogenic fluids are the recent necessities.
Mechanical seal arrangement to minimize the shaft end leakages of gas to
outside atmosphere to the bare minimum during normal run of the
- For compressors handling toxic gasses tight shut off seals is one of the
recent requirements. These seals arrest the gas leakage to outside
atmosphere. When the unit is not in operation and where it is not afford to
depressurize the system by venting.


It has often been said that the computer age will do for man’s mind what
industrial revolution did for his muscle. High speed and high accuracy in
problem solving made them an important design tool. Computer aided
design ( CAD ) is a technique in which man and the computer are blended
into a problem solving team, intimately coupling the best characteristics of
each, so that this team works better than either alone. The main benefits that
accrue out of CAD are
- Reduction in design cycle time
- Reliability of equipment
- Design optimization


Centrifugal compressors occupy an important position in process plants and

they must be extremely reliable. Reliability of the equipment is built at the
design stage itself. The design of compressor involves right from the
evaluation of thermodynamic properties to rotor synchronous response
complex mathematical equations. Also the calculation procedure is highly
iterative. To carry out these calculations manually is not only time
consuming but error prone. Application of CAD overcomes these short
comings. The important aspects of computer program used in the design of
centrifugal compressors are described below.



One of the most important aspects in the design of centrifugal compressors

is the correct evaluation of thermodynamic properties of gases or gas
mixtures being handled. Till recently Mollier Charts were used for the above
purpose. This method is tedious and time consuming. More over, it is
difficult to obtain Mollier charts for gas mixtures.

To over come this difficulty an equation of state is used. An equation of

state is a functional relationship between pressure, temperature and volume.
An equation of state, theoretical or empirical makes possible easy
interpolation ( and possible extrapolation). It condenses the availability PVT
data to a great extent. Using and equation of state, the errors involved in the
evaluation of derivatives and integrals are reduced, as taking slopes by
graphical differentiation involve large errors and are tedious. The accuracy
depends on how well the equation of state represents the PVT data.

The Benedict-webb-Rubins (BWR) equation of state is the best available in

the field of gas and liquid for light hydrocarbons. This equation of state has
8 numerical constants varying for different gases. To predict more exactly
the properties of simple components Starlings modification of BWR
equation is used. This equation has 11 numerical constants.

For non-hydro carbons and hydrocarbons for which the eight coefficients of
BWR equation are not available the generalized BWR euation as given by
Cooper and Gold Frank is used. For gas mixtures the coefficients are
obtained by mixing rules given by BISHNOI & BOBINSON.

A computer program based on above equations of state is being used. The

input to the program consists of gas composition and ranges of pressure,
temperature over which the properties are required. The graphical output of
this program is used for the purpose.


Centrifugal compressors of BHEL-NP design employ standard tested stages.
A stage is a combination of impeller, vane less diffuser and return vane
channel. Depending upon the impeller blade outlet angle the stages are
divided into different families as B,Q, F,G and H. In each family of impeller
there are different types of stages. The polytropic efficiency of an impeller is
expressed as a polynomial of inlet flow coefficient with 7 numerical
constants. Each of these constants as a function of family, type, diameter and
tip speed Mach number of impeller.

The head coefficient is expressed as a polynomial of product of inlet flow

coefficient and specific volume ratio at inlet and outlet. The polynomial
consists of 4 coefficients each of them is a function of family, type, diameter
and tip speed Mach number of impeller.

From the tested data of a set of impellers in each family, the values of the
above said coefficients are evaluated. This data is available as a direct access
file on the computer. Part of the program consists of subroutines to evaluate
gas properties.

The input program consists of the following

i) Inlet conditions of gas

ii) Discharge pressure
iii) Gas composition
iv) Approximate speed and no. of stages in the train
v) Pressure drop across intercoolers
vi) Impeller diameter
vii) Injection and extraction conditions

The program then selects the type of stages evaluates speed, phase
polytropic efficiency and total power.


For impellers operating at high tip Mach numbers ( above 0.9) it is necessary
to match the blade angle with flow angle to minimize losses. This results in
a twisted impeller blade. To carry out the design of 3-dimensional impellers,
a computer program developed by Northern research Engineering
Corporation (NREC) is being used. The program calculates the relative
velocity distribution along eight streamlines from hub to shroud based on
prescribed loading method. The major input parameters are hub & shroud
contours, blade thickness distribution, swirl distribution, blade blockage
factor and outlet angle.

Output is in both tabular and graphical form giving the relative velocity
distribution along 8 streamlines and blade shape in the form of line



The state of art in the present day centrifugal compressor design is to go in

for high tip speeds. Calculation of stresses in the impeller is the basis for
selecting the impeller material, type of heat treatment and interference for
shrink fitting of impeller on to the shaft. A program based on the procedure
given by B.P.C.H.O is being used.

The input to the program is the description of the impeller, tip speed and
blade thickness distribution, blade root stresses, extension and deflection at
various radii.


An important part of the standard design procedure for a rotor is the

calculation of its critical speeds. As a first approximation undamped critical
speeds are calculated using PROHL’method. In this method isotropic
supports are considered. A rather more satisfying approach to the flexural
analysis of the rotor consists in introducing damped in the vibration system
and considering anisotropic linear supports. Such a model enables one to
face the following problems.

a) Study of stationary vibrations due to unbalances that are present in the

rotor. These vibrations are synchronous with the rotor rotation.
b) Study of stationary vibrations due to the presence of one or more
forces, with constant intensity and all of them rotating uniformly at
the same speed, generally different from rotor speed.

c) Study of natural damped mode of vibration of the rotor and

calculation of stability parameter. Stability measures the attitude of
the very mode towards damping. A small or even negative value of
this parameter indicates that the system is unstable.

With only one computer program, that was developed for this purpose, one
can face three types of problems previously described. Most of the formulae
used in the program were drawn from the theory that is illustrated by
J.W.LUND. The input to the program consists of physical description of the
rotor, geometric characteristics of bearing, speed range over which
synchronous response is required.

Program output consists of bearing characteristics (stiffness and damping

coefficients) vs sommerfield number, amplitude of vibration at various

Torsional critical speeds for the entire train is carried out by means of a
program based on Holzers method.



The flow entering the intermediate impeller of a compressor is made radial

by deswirl vanes located upstream of the impeller.

Inlet angle of the vanes is obtained based upon the conditions of flow at the
impeller outlet. The flow area varies linearly from inlet to outlet of return
vane channel. A program based on above considerations calculates the vane

The complete data pertaining to different types of impellers of a family is

available as a direct access file. A computer program facilities plotting of
complete series of impellers in a given family for a given diameter.

Accurate evaluation of thermodynamic properties, critical speeds, stresses

contribute to the reliability of equipment. The next step is to generate
component drawings and necessary information for machining on CNC

- Casing
- Diaphragm
- Rotor
- End covers for barrel construction design
- Sealing system


The construction features of the two models in use are

- Horizontally split casing design
- Vertically split casing design

Horizontally split type design :

The horizontal plane in the middle and consists of an upper and lower
part. All necessary connections, such as suction and discharge nozzles,
intermediate suction and discharge nozzles, wherever required, and lube oil
inlet and drain connections are integral with the lower half. Internal parts can
be accessed just by lifting the upper part which needs no major dismantling
of piping. For inspection of bearings, there is no need to remove the upper
half. Only bearing cover removal is adequate. The MCL, 2MCL, 3MCL and
DMCL compressors are of horizontal split design.

Vertically split type design :

These are used when the working pressure and type of gas demand
such an arrangement. All internal parts are similar to the horizontally split
type casing, but the diaphragm seals and the rotor bundle are inserted axially
in a forged steel barrel casing. Ends are closed with end covers, the lower
half of the bearing housing is integral with the end cover. By removing the
end cover, it is possible to withdraw the complete internal assembly and
have access to the internals like seals, diaphragms and rotor, without
disturbing the outer casing. There is no need to remove end covers for
bearing inspection. The BCL, 2BCL, DBCL, 3BCL and PCL type casings
are of the vertical split design.

The function of the diaphragm is

i) To form the dynamic flow path of the gas inside the compressor.
ii) To form the separation wall between one Compressor stage and the
subsequent one.
iii) To convert the kinetic energy of the gas leaving the impeller into
pressure energy.

They are of three types.

1. Suction diaphragm
2. intermediate diaphragm
3. Discharge diaphragm

The diaphragm are generally made of cast steel. However, based on

operating conditions, alloyed cast iron, forged steel or stainless steel
materials are also used. In small and medium size casings, the diaphragms
are fabricated from plates.


The basic function of the centrifugal compressor rotor is to impart the

required compression energy to the gas.

The rotor forms the heart of the centrifugal compressor, consisting of

the shaft, Impellers, spacers, bushes, Balancing drum, thrust collar, Coupling
hub and thrust bearing. The impellers are hot shrunk and keyed. The
shrinking of impeller and balancing piston is necessary to ensure that the
impeller does not get slackened due to the centrifugal forces during start up
and normal running of the compressor. This would otherwise result in
vibrations on the rotor system. Rotor must perform its function with a
deflection less than the minimum clearance between rotating and stationary
parts. The loads involved are the torques, the weight of the parts, and axial
gas forces. The rotor, during assembly is balanced stage wise.

The shaft is made out of forged alloy steel and the impellers, spacers
and the balancing drum are shrunk fitted on it . Spacers of stainless steel
material are used to protect the shaft against gas erosion and corrosion. The
shaft is made by turning and grinding operations. journal bearing zones of
the shaft is ground and burnished with the diamond burnishing technique to
improve the surface finish and to keep the total run outs within the
permissible limits.

When the impeller is rotating at high speed, air is drawn through the
eye of the impeller. The absolute velocity of the inflow air is axial. The
magnitude and the direction of the entering relative velocity depend upon the
linear velocity of the impeller at the radial position of the eye considered, as
well as the magnitude and the direction of the entering absolute velocity.
The impeller vanes at the eye are bent to provide shock less entrance for the
entering flow at its relative entrance angle. The air then flows radially
through the impeller passages due to centrifugal force. All the mechanical
energy driving the compressor is converted into kinetic energy, pressure and
heat due to friction. The purpose of the diffuser/diaphragm is to convert the
kinetic energy that leaves the impeller into pressure. The air leaving the
diffusers is collected in a spiral passage from which it is discharged from the
Impellers are most stressed components of the compressors
demanding highly precise manufacturing methods. Impellers are identified
depending on the methodology used during manufacturing. The different
types of impellers, which are being manufactured, are:

1) Welded type of impeller

Welding technology is adopted for the impellers having gas passage width
more than 30 mm. In this type of impeller, disc and counter disc are
machined out of two separate forgings and vanes are bent to the required
shape out of plate. Vanes are welded to the disc and counter disc from
inside, followed by stress relieving, testing of welded parts, heat treatment
and machining to correct profiles.

2) Milled & welded type of impeller (Internal welded type)

This technology is adopted for the impellers having gas passage width
varying from 7 to 30 mm. In this type of impellers, vanes are milled on to
the disc (or counter disc) and then counter disc (or disc) is welded to the disc
followed by heat treatment, testing, finish turning and balancing. The critical
operation involved is the milling of vanes on disc (or counter disc) by
special 3 dimensional milling machine.

3) Milled & welded type of impeller (External welded type)

This is the latest technology, which has been adopted for impeller
manufacturing. The impellers having low outlet angles, small radius of
curvature of vanes and narrow gas passages, could not be manufactured as
mentioned above because of the limitations involved in the impeller
manufacturing techniques. Subsequently, new technology is developed
established i.e. External welded impellers.
In this type the impellers are manufactured out of two separate forgings for
disc and counter disc. The critical operations involved in manufacturing of
external welded impellers are

i) Machining of vanes on counter disc and corresponding blind

grooves on disc.

Milling is carried out on CNC machine center. This operation is critical

in the sense that there should be perfect matching of the axis of the blind
groove on disc and axis of vanes on the counter disc. This is being ensured
by drilling peepholes on every blind groove.

ii) Welding of disc on to the counter disc

Disc is diametrically located on to the counter disc, coaxiality of

groove and vanes axis is ensured through peepholes. The job is preheated
and gas passages are closed by seal welding circumferentially to avoid the
leakage of inert gas. Job is mounted on the special welding fixture, vanes
curvature is centered w.r.t manipulator center and clamped. Root welding is
done by TIG by fusing disc material on to the vanes and subsequently metal
is filled up externally in the groove of disc by TIG pulse. This operation will
be carried out special automatic welding machine having pulse generator
and a special fixture.

4) Electro- eroded impeller:

This method is used where welding technology is not suitable for the
impellers of small width gas passages. The impellers are manufactured out
of a single forging. Gas passages are eroded in the forging & vanes are
created by adopting EDM (Electrical discharge Machining) technique. The
critical operation in manufacturing this type of impeller is the Electro-
erosion of gas passages. Electrodes are machined to the shape similar to that
of gas passages, and fed vertically downwards through a pilot hole. The pilot
hole guides the electrode. Material is eroded by spark discharges between
the electrode & the job across a gap usually filled with die electric medium
and gas passages are created.


BCL type of casing are closed at both ends with end covers which has
got integral bearing and seal housing. End covers are always manufactured
out of forgings.