August 2004

Engineering Case Histories

Case 22: The mysterious bending of impeller blades

A quick analysis helps solve an unexplained failure

Sofronas, A., Consulting Engineer

By now, readers of this column are aware that the failures analyzed aren't your everyday kind. They brought high-level interest because of the losses involved. Here's another. The blades were being bent on a new axial compressor used to draw process gas from a reactor. One additional blade was noted bent at each inspection. Compressors in similar service at other sites were not experiencing this problem. The investigating team observed that 1-in. polymer balls formed and passed through the upstream debris screen. Also, these impeller blades were thinner than on other same-service machines. An analysis was requested to determine the effect of a polymer ball impacting the blade

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