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We have previously written about surge in our Myth Buster column. It is a violent physical phenomenon that occurs in centrifugal compressor systems with the potential to cause significant damage to the compressor. Surge occurs when the compressor is not capable of overcoming the discharge pressure imposed by the system: when the compressor operates on the low-flow side of its operating range. This is where the capability of its impellers drops below the point where it can produce sufficient head to overcome the pressure difference between the high-discharge pressure and low-suction pressure. At that point, the gas will flow backwards through the compressor from the pressure side to the suction side. As a result , the discharge pressure imposed by the system is reduced. Eventually, the discharge pressure becomes low enough that the compressor can overcome it, and the flow will again go from suction to discharge. If nothing in the system is changed, this process repeats. Surge is thus a periodic cyclic phenomenon that occurs at compressor and piping system characteristic frequencies unrelated to the running speed. As full flow reversal occurs, there are significant forces created during surge with the potential of severe damage to compressor internal components ...
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