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Identification and analysis of screw compressor mechanical losses

Abdan, S., Stosic, N., Kovacevic, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-8732-2242 , Smith, I. K. & Deore, P. (2018). Identification and analysis of screw compressor mechanical losses. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 425(1), article number 12015. doi: 10.1088/1757-899X/425/1/012015


Screw compressors are compact machines, used for a wide range of applications where gases or vapours are required to be delivered at moderate pressures with high efficiency and reliability. They are most effective when the compressed medium requires power inputs, approximately in the 10 kW - 1-2 MW range. At lower inputs alternatives such as reciprocating and scroll compressors are preferable and at higher inputs turbo-compressors are more suitable.

In industrialised countries, compressors absorb 15-20% of the total electrical power generated. Hence there is a continuing demand to improve their efficiency. This is normally expressed as the specific power consumption, which is the power required to compress unit mass of gas delivered.

There already exist mathematical models to assist in the design of such machines and to estimate their performance, which include the estimation of the dynamic loads acting on the rotors and bearings and these loads determine their mechanical efficiency. However, these models do not estimate the magnitude of the mechanical losses, which are only guesstimated as an additional increment to the power required to compress the gas. Such an approximation does not enable the optimum selection of bearings and lubricating oil to minimise the frictional power losses.

The aim of the study, described in this paper, was to estimate the effect of the individual parameters responsible for mechanical power loss in oil injected screw compressors and is focussed on the losses incurred in the gear box, bearings and shaft seals.

It was found that in the gearbox, meshing, bearing and seal losses all increase both with speed and gear ratio. In the main rotors, it was found that sliding friction losses in the bearings are not significantly affected by the radial load, nor are rolling friction losses significantly dependent on the axial load. However, both axial and radial loads have a significant effect on the total frictional power loss. Lubricant viscosity affects the frictional power losses but the oil level does not.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.
Subjects: T Technology > TJ Mechanical engineering and machinery
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
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