Eliminating Excessive Compressor Lubrication
CPI’s Proflo EOS optimizes the amount of oil injected into a reciprocating compressor.
By Lee Alexander
Lubrication oil is one of the highest costs associated with the operation of compressors. For the average compressor operator, oil usage can average 25 to 30% of running costs.
Managing these costs in today’s economy is more important, as excessive lubrication erodes operators’ profitability as well as impact the reliability of critical sealing components.
It is common practice to run break-in lubrication rates for new or overhauled compressors for a period of 200 hours after start-up. This break-in period prevents excessive temperature at start-up, allows conformity of piston and packing rings to mating surfaces and allows debris to be carried away.
It is very often the case that the lubrication levels are never scaled back to normal levels, especially in remote locations. When operating a large fleet of compressors, there is significant profit that can be gained through using an optimum lubrication system. There is an added cost of having this additional lubrication oil in the gas stream; the longevity of coalescing filters can be greatly improved when lubrication oil rates are set to the correct levels, preserving the life of the filters again, increasing the probability of an operation.
Excessive lubrication is equally damaging to reciprocating compressor sealing components. Increased oil lubrication can cause hydraulic locking of the packing case. This is where the packing rings do not have adequate side clearance and the rings overheat, extrude and ultimately fail. Another cause of over lubrication is valve stiction. Excessive oil causes the sealing elements to stick to the valve seat. The valve opening and closing events are delayed and increased pressure causes the valve to open and close with increased velocity, which in worst cases can cause the elements to break.
Compressor Products International (CPI) has introduced the Proflo EOS to specifically address these problems by optimizing the amount of oil that is injected into a reciprocating compressor. CPI acquired three leading compressor lubrication companies in 2010, and the Proflo EOS has been developed as a result of the knowledge and insight gained from these acquisitions.