August 2009

Special Report: Fluid Flow and Rotating Equipment

Consider ceramic bearings for screw compressors

This retrofit resulted in a six-fold increase in service life

Bloch, Heinz P., Hydrocarbon Processing Staff

Oil-flooded screw compressors with bearings flooded by contaminated oil can be problematic. Retrofitting an oil-flooded screw compressor subjected to severe sour gas (30-40 mol%) and acid gas (35 mol%) conditions with new rolling bearing technology resulted in a six-fold increase in service life. Ceramic bearings were employed in the retrofit; it demonstrates important opportunities to equip oil-flooded screw compressors with advanced ceramic rolling-element bearings. In essence, attractive reliability improvements exist for "wet screw" compressors that process, gather and extract hydrocarbons. The bearing retrofit at the Syncrude oil sands facility can boast the longest-running oil-flood

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