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GE Energy’s Opticomp BN control technology integrates turbine speed, sequencing and compressor anti-surge protection into a single control system for the oil-and-gas and petrochemical industries.

The advanced control technology also integrates machine condition monitoring and compressor control, enabling plants to operate their compressors and process closer to the ‘optimum’ point, without surge and providing protection over the full range of operation, enhancing process efficiency.

The Opticomp BN integrated compressor control concept is patent pending and is in the final detailed design stage for full disclosure later this year.

The oil-and-gas and petrochemical industries are moving towards systems integration to reduce costs and to improve performance.

In centrifugal compressor operation, hundreds of compressor units can be operating individually, as a machine train, or as a major subsystem in support of the overall hydrocarbon processing at a large industrial complex.

Centrifugal compressors are often energy-consuming, high-speed machines where critical control and protection are required to operate safely and efficiently through the required operating scenarios.

According to GE, turbocompressors regularly experience surge (large and self-sustaining pressure and flow oscillations in the compression system) when the flow through the compressor decreases below a certain level.

This level varies with the operating parameters of the compressor and with the gas properties.

Unstable compressor behaviour is the result of the interaction of the compressor characteristics and those of the surrounding system, as well as the loss of aerodynamic stability in the compressor itself.

The often violent flow reversals resulting from surge can destroy bearings, seals and other internal components, resulting in significant repair costs and the financial losses owing to lost production.

GE’s Opticomp BN control technology is claimed to enable users to find the right balance between process performance and surge protection and to maximise the overall process efficiency by safely operating compressors closer to the surge limit, without the risk of crossing over the line.

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