Introduction

Drivers for compressors must supply torque of a specified value at a certain speed. Whenever the driver speed characteristics are not directly useable, they may be modified by a speed increasing or reducing gear. The only exceptions to the speed-torque criteria are a limited number of the reciprocating compressors. These are the integral engine and the direct steam cylinder driven machines. The balance of the reciprocators align themselves with the other compressors, receiving their input energy by way of shaft torque at a given speed.

The driver is a prime mover capable of developing the required torque at a constant speed or over a range of speeds. The driver's energy source can be either electrical or mechanical. Electrical energy is used by motors, either of the induction or synchronous type, while the mechanical covers a multitude of sources. It may be a fuel, as in internal or external combustion engines, or it may be a gas, such as steam or process gas used in a turbine or expander.

This chapter will describe all common compressor drivers, but as a practical consideration, details on selection or sizing, hazardous area applications, and installations will not be covered. For additional information refer to the National Electrical Code 11] and API publications RP 500 and RP 540 [2, 3] as well as some of the general references given.

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