In gas processing, boosting, and gathering applications, gas-liquid separator equipment (typically referred to as a scrubber) is placed upstream of each reciprocating compressor stage to remove water and hydrocarbon condensates. However, field experience indicates that liquids are often still present downstream of the separation equipment. When liquids are ingested into the reciprocating compressor, machinery failures, some of which are severe, can result. While it is generally understood that liquid carryover and condensation can occur, it is less clear how the multiphase fluid moves through equipment downstream of the scrubber.
In this paper, mechanisms responsible for liquid formation and carryover into reciprocating compressors are explored. First, the effects of liquid ingestion on reciprocating compressors reported in the open literature are reviewed. Then, the role of heat and pressure loss along the gas flow path is investigated to determine whether liquid formation (i.e., condensation) is likely to occur for two identical compressors with different pulsation bottle configurations. For this investigation, conjugate heat transfer (CHT) models of the suction pulsation bottles are used to identify regions where liquid dropout is likely to occur. Results of these investigations are presented. Next, liquid carryover from the upstream scrubber is considered. Multiphase models are developed to determine how the multiphase fluid flows through the complex flow path within the pulsation bottle. Two liquid droplet size distributions are employed in these models. Descriptions of the modeling techniques, assumptions, and boundary conditions are provided.