What are API 618 Compressors and What are Their Industrial Applications?

Pneumatic machinery and compressors have been used within industries such as food and beverage manufacturing and oil and gas operations for quite some time now. One of them, which is known as the API 618 compressor, is available in a variety of flexible configurations and sizes, making it easily customizable to provide an ideal compressor for a wide assortment of applications. Let’s take a quick look at them, and find out their use cases and the benefits they have to offer.

What is the API 618 Standard?

The American Petroleum Institute is the largest US trade association for the oil and natural gas industry. It claims to represent nearly 600 corporations involved in the distribution, production, refinement, and many other aspects of the petroleum industry. As an authoritative figure, API develops standards and task groups that work and maintain them.

In its first 100 years, API has developed more than 700 standards to enhance environmental protection, operational safety, and sustainability across the industry. Out of these standards, the API Standard 618 is dedicated to reciprocating compressors for chemical, gas, and petroleum industry services. Currently, the 5th edition of the standard is available with the latest update as of June 8th, 2011.

The API 618 standard covers the minimum requirements for reciprocating compressors for use in chemical, gas, and oil industry services and for processing gas at any pressure, as well as air with a gauge pressure of more than 9 bar. The compressors covered by the API 618 standard are at low to moderate speeds, typically between 300-750 rpm (revolutions per minute). The standard also covers auxiliary equipment, controls, heat exchangers, instrumentation, lubrication systems, and pulsation suppression devices.

Uses of Reciprocating Compressors

Also known as piston compressors, reciprocating compressors are positive displacement devices that are most widely used to compress gas by the reciprocating motion of the piston. It handles a low mass of gas but a high-pressure ratio. During the operation of reciprocating compression, it takes a large amount of gas from the suction line, compresses it, and then discharges the compressed gas to the discharge line.

Reciprocating compressors have been widely used for over 200 years ever since gases needed to be compressed. The reciprocating compressor’s performance is governed almost exclusively by the operating speed, with each cylinder of the compressor discharging the same volume, excluding slight variations caused by atmospheric changes.

Benefits and Advantages of Using Reciprocating Compressors

One of the most noticeable benefits of using a reciprocating compressor is that it is able to produce high-pressure gas or discharge chemicals or petroleum for a variety of industrial use. Not only can it compress a significantly large volume of used material, but it can also act as a refrigerant of a wide range of molecular densities.

Reciprocating compressors are also known for their high efficiency and flexibility. Furthermore, they incorporate a cheap but rugged design. This can translate to relatively low maintenance costs as they are affordable, durable, and efficient, with significant product life. Lastly, these types of compressors can be located close to the point of use, avoiding lengthy piping runs and pressure drops.

By utilizing the API 618 standard for reciprocating compressors, additional advantages come into play, such as delivering performance-critical solutions for corrosive, dangerous, and explosive gas mixtures. Moreover, following the standards can also increase the operational lifetime of legacy equipment as well as lead to more efficiency in use and safety of people involved.

Final Word

API 618 compressors are ideally categorized as low-speed compressors due to their maximum speed of 750 revolutions per minute. Nevertheless, this does not mean that they are exempt from the pulsation and vibration standard for slow-speed compressors. A vibration study includes different design components depending on the risk and application, where the standard requirement often include a pulsation and mechanical analysis. Nevertheless, you can find companies out there that can provide you with diaphragm compressors that are able to meet the API 618 compressor standards even though they come with their own unique design elements.

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