May 2015

Special Report: Maintenance/Reliability

Consider new labyrinth seals to optimize compressor operations

Degradation of labyrinth seals in centrifugal impellers can have a significant impact on not only compressor power consumption but also on plant production rate. Upgrading to rub-tolerant seals can be..

Gresh, M. T., Flexware, Inc.; Whalen, J. K., John Crane Engineered Bearings

Degradation of labyrinth seals in centrifugal impellers can have a significant impact on not only compressor power consumption but also on plant production rate. Upgrading to rub-tolerant seals can be beneficial in not only making improvements to the present efficiency and capacity, but, even more importantly, maintaining new operating levels. With damaged labyrinth seals, the head and efficiency are reduced. The performance curve is shifted down and to the left, and the capacity of the compressor is reduced, thus limiting plant output. As shown in Fig. 1, such damage can occur in an instant as the compressor goes through the critical speed on startup. This then results in the remaining run

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