Suction Drums

All types of compressors will benefit if suction drums are part of the inlet system design. However, as a practical consideration, it would be difficult to justify a drum on small spared compressors, particularly the "off-the-shelf' type. If the compressor is in critical service, even when spared and/or replacement cost is deemed significant, suction drums should be considered.

The purpose of the drum is to exclude liquid from entering the compressor while operating. Ideally, the drum should be designed to operate "dry." If the drum is normally devoid of liquid, the instrumentation of the drum is straightforward. The instrumentation does not have to define a level, which can be difficult to monitor should the level be unsteady and possibly foaming. Also there should be no temptation to accept a "temporary" buildup. Finally, there is more of a volumetric safety factor to stop a liquid "carryover" for a given physical size drum if there is no resident liquid. A caution should be noted: the drum should not be a substitute for sound engineering of the compressor inlet system. Care should be taken to design the system to be free of "carryover." The drums are there for a backup system should there be that process upset that should not have even happened.

The piping configuration from the outlet of the drum is important. If possible, there should be no liquid traps in the compressor inlet line.

These are locations where condensation can accumulate. If allowed to accumulate, at some time it will enter the compressor as a slug of liquid and cause damage. If the piping configuration must contain a loop, the lower portion of the loop should be instrumented to detect the presence of liquid accumulation. Both for the drums and for the piping loops, pro vision must be made to drain any liquid that may be present.

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