Reciprocating Compressors – Suction Pressure Throttle Valve
A suction pressure throttling valve can also be installed to protect the compressor from too high a suction pressure. This is typically a butterfly valve that is placed in the suction piping. As flow rate to the compressor increases, the valve will close slightly and maintain a constant suction pressure. This will automatically limit the flow rate to exactly that rate where the actual volume of gas equals that required by the cylinder at the chosen suction pressure setting. It will not allow the suction pressure to increase and the compressor cylinder to thus handle more flow rate.
The pressure upstream of the suction valve will increase until sufficient back-pressure is established on the wells or equipment feeding the compressor to reduce the flow to a new rate in equilibrium with that being handled by the cylinder or until a flare valve or relief valve is actuated.
Suction throttle valves are common in gas-lift service to minimize the action of the flare valve. Flow from gas-lift wells decreases with increased back-pressure. If there were no suction valve, the flare valve may have to be set at a low pressure to protect the compressor. With a suction valve it may be possible to set the flare valve at a much higher pressure slightly below the working pressure of the low-pressure separator. The difference between the suction valve set pressure and the flare valve set pressure provides a surge volume for gas and helps even the flow to the compressor.
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