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Design of Compressor Suction Drums

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This topic contains 0 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Milton Beychok 17 years, 4 months ago.

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    The size of a compressor suction drum (or knock-out pot, or vapor-liquid separator, or flash drum) should be dictated by the anticipated flow rate of vapor and liquid from the drum. The following sizing methodology is based on the assumption that those flow rates are known.

    Use a vertical pressure vessel with a length-to-diameter ratio of about 3 to 4, and size the vessel to provide about 5 minutes of liquid inventory between the normal liquid level and the bottom of the vessel (with the normal liquid level being at about the vessel’s half-full level).

    For the maximum vapor velocity (which will set the drum’s diameter), use Souders-Brown equation:

    Vmax = (k) [ (dL – dV) / dV ]^0.5

    Vmax = maximum vapor velocity, ft/sec
    dL = liquid density, lb/ft3
    dV = vapor density, lb/ft3
    k = 0.35 (when the drum includes a de-entraining mesh section)

    [quote]The GPSA Engineering Data Book recommends the following k values for vertical drums with horizontal mesh pads (at the denoted operating pressures):

    0 psig: 0.35
    300 psig: 0.33
    600 psig: 0.30
    900 psig: 0.27
    1500 psig: 0.21

    GPSA Notes:
    1. K = 0.35 at 100 psig; subtract 0.01 for every 100 psi above 100 psig
    2. For glycol or amine solutions, multiply above K values by 0.6 – 0.8.
    3. Typically use one-half of the above K values for approximate sizing of vertical separators without mist eliminators.
    4. For compressor suction scrubbers and expander inlet separators, multiply K by 0.7 – 0.8[/quote]
    The drum should have a vapor outlet at the top, liquid outlet at the bottom, and feed inlet at somewhat above the half-full level. At the vapor outlet, provide a de-entraining mesh section within the drum such that the vapor must pass through that mesh before it can leave the drum. Depending upon how much liquid flow you expect, the liquid outlet line should probably have a level control valve.

    As for the mechanical design of the drum (i.e., materials of construction, wall thickness, corrosion allowance, etc.), use the same methodology as for any pressure vessel.

    Milton Beychok
    (Visit me at

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