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In refineries, petrochemical and gas processing plants, such as olefins, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and gas-to-liquids plants, compressors are some of the most critical and costly pieces of equipment. For example, capital costs of a single refrigerant compressor in an LNG facility can be on the order of $50 million, and the cost of energy required to run the compressor can easily exceed the initial capital cost over the Lifetime of the compressor. In addition to capital and operating costs, compressor surge, which is a fast, high-energy flow instability, can damage internal components and can lead to downtime and expensive repair bills.
Compressors represent a sizable investment and ongoing expense. However, recent advances in digital technologies at the controller and control valve levels have led to significant improvements in compressor operation. These advances have been used co automate startup and improve running efficiencies, while reducing the risk of surge.