Title:
COMPRESSOR SYSTEM FOR NATURAL GAS, METHOD OF COMPRESSING NATURAL GAS AND PLANT USING THEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A compressor system including a driver machine, for example a motor or a turbine, an epicyclic gearbox, and a centrifugal compressor, wherein the driver machine, the epicyclic gearbox, and the centrifugal compressor are connected in train configuration, i.e. the output rotary member of the driver machine is coupled to the input rotary member of the epicyclic gearbox and the output rotary member of the epicyclic gearbox is coupled to the input rotary member of the centrifugal compressor. The gear ratio of the epicyclic gearbox is greater than one, typically much more than one, thus increasing the rotation speed from input to output.



Inventors:
Tacconelli, Remo (Florence, IT)
Chandrasekaran, Shankar (Tamil Nadu, IN)
Reddy, Murali Krishna (Gurgaon, IN)
Ah Karm, Tivon Sing Lezin (Paris, FR)
Vadapalli, Sandilya (Gurgaon, IN)
Guenard, Denis Guillaume (Le Creusot, FR)
Application Number:
14/374590
Publication Date:
12/25/2014
Filing Date:
01/24/2013
Assignee:
Nuovo Pignone SRL (Florence, IT)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
417/321, 417/410.1
International Classes:
F04D7/02; F04D13/02
View Patent Images:



Foreign References:
WO2011146231A12011-11-24
DE102010020145A12011-11-17
Primary Examiner:
COMLEY, ALEXANDER BRYANT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BAKER HUGHES COMPANY (Houston, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A compressor system for natural gas, the compressor system comprising: a driver machine comprising a first output rotary member; an epicyclic gearbox comprising a first input rotary member and a second output rotary member, the epicyclic gearbox having a gear ratio greater than one thus increasing the rotation speed from input to output; and a first centrifugal compressor configured to compress natural gas, the first centrifugal compressor comprising a second input rotary member; wherein the first output rotary member of the driver machine is coupled to the first input rotary member of the epicyclic gearbox, and wherein the second output rotary member of the epicyclic gearbox is coupled to the second input rotary member of the centrifugal compressor.

2. The compressor system of claim 1, wherein the epicyclic gearbox is multi-stage, and/or compound type.

3. The compressor system of claim 1, wherein the driver machine is an electric motor or a gas turbine or a steam turbine.

4. The compressor system of claim 1, wherein the gearbox is mounted on the driver machine, or on foot, or on the driver machine and on foot.

5. The compressor system of claim 1, further comprising a second centrifugal compressor configured to compress natural gas, wherein the first centrifugal compressor and the second centrifugal compressor are connected in train configuration to the first output rotary member of the driver machine.

6. A method of compressing natural gas through a centrifugal compressor, the method comprising: driving the centrifugal compressor through an epicyclic gearbox using a driver machine, wherein the epicyclic gearbox has a gear ratio greater than one.

7. The method of claim 6, wherein the gear ratio of the epicyclic gearbox is in the range from 5 to 20.

8. The method of claim 6, wherein the driver machine comprises an output rotary member, and wherein the output rotary member is configured to drive an at least two or more centrifugal compressors at different rotation speeds.

9. The method of claim 6, wherein the driver machine is operated at a variable rotation speed.

10. A plant comprising: a compressor system for gas, wherein the compressor system comprises: a driver machine comprising a first output rotary member; an epicyclic gearbox comprising a first input rotary member and a second output rotary member, wherein the epicyclic gearbox has a gear ratio greater than one thus increasing the rotation speed from input to output; and a centrifugal compressor configured to compress gas, the centrifugal compressor comprising a second input rotary member; wherein the first output rotary member of the driver machine is coupled to the first input rotary member of the epicyclic gearbox, and wherein the second output rotary member of the epicyclic gearbox is coupled to the second input rotary member of the centrifugal compressor.

11. The compressor system of claim 2, wherein the epicyclic gearbox is two stage.

12. The plant of claim 10, wherein the epicyclic gearbox is multi-stage, and/or compound type.

13. The plant of claim 10, wherein the driver machine is an electric motor or a gas turbine or a steam turbine.

14. The plant of claim 10, wherein the gearbox is mounted on the driver machine, or on foot, or on the driver machine and on foot.

15. The plant of claim 10, further comprising a second centrifugal compressor configured to compress natural gas, wherein the first centrifugal compressor and the second centrifugal compressor are connected in train configuration to the first output rotary member of the driver machine.

16. The plant of claim 10, wherein the epicyclic gearbox is two stage.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the subject matter disclosed herein generally relate to a compressor system for natural gas, a method of compressing natural gas and a plant using such a compressor and/or method.

In the field of Oil & Gas, it is common to compress natural gas.

This happens, for example, in upstream plants wherein the gas comes typically from an oil well or a gas well, and is a mixture that contains typically hydrocarbons in variable proportion and/or hydrogen in variable proportion and/or carbon dioxide in variable proportion; when the gas comes from an oil well, the gas need to be separated from oil before being compressed.

This happens, for example, in downstream plants wherein the gas comes typically from a pipeline or from another plant (so called “process gas”).

In the field of Oil & Gas, three major industrial process stages (with corresponding plants) are identified: “upstream”, “midstream” and “downstream”; “midstream” is commonly included in “downstream”.

It is worth noting that in the field of Oil & Gas, treating, particularly compressing, gas is problematic; in fact, for example, gas may be potentially explosive especially if it contains hydrogen and/or ammonia.

The solution to the problem of compression used till now and for a very long time (i.e. many decades) provides for the use of a driver machine, a parallel-axes gearbox, and a compressor (often a centrifugal compressor) for compressing the natural gas, all of them in train configuration connection. In FIG. 1, there is shown a general block diagram of this known solution: a traditional centrifugal compressor TCC is connected to the output of a traditional parallel-axes gearbox PAGB that is connected to the output of a traditional driver machine TDR; gearbox PAGB increases the rotation speed from input to output and this is schematically represented by the different number of arcs at its input and at its output.

Although many specific solutions have been conceived in order to get ever improving performances, the above mentioned approach has been maintained; FIG. 1 highlights that the axes of the input shaft and the output shaft of the gearbox are parallel and at a distance from each other.

SUMMARY

With the aim of achieving further and substantial improvements it has been decided to modify the approach, specifically to modify the train.

Instead of using a parallel-axes gearbox, an epicyclic gearbox was chosen.

Epicyclic gearboxes are known since many years and have already been used in the field of Oil & Gas anyway, in this field, they have been used as devices for reducing rotation speed when driving electric power generators. In FIG. 2, there is shown a general block diagram of this known solution: a traditional electric power generator TEPG is connected to the output of a traditional epicyclic gearbox TEGB that is connected to the output of a traditional turbine TTB; gearbox TEGB decreases the rotation speed from input to output and this is schematically represented by the different number of arcs at its input and at its output; FIG. 2 highlights that the axes of the input shaft and the output shaft of the gearbox are coincident.

Although many specific solutions have been conceived in order to get ever improving performances, the above mentioned approach has been maintained till now.

In the field of Oil & Gas, reliability of the plants provided and installed to the client is of the utmost importance. Therefore, the components, including the machines, of these plants are chosen based on their reliability and long track record.

A first aspect of the present invention is a compressor system for natural gas.

According to embodiments thereof, a compressor system for natural gas comprises: a driver machine comprising an output rotary member, an epicyclic gearbox comprising an input rotary member and an output rotary member, and having a gear ratio greater than one thus increasing the rotation speed from input to output, and a centrifugal compressor for compressing natural gas comprising an input rotary member; the output rotary member of said driver machine is coupled to the input rotary member of said epicyclic gearbox, and the output rotary member of said epicyclic gearbox is coupled to the input rotary member of said centrifugal compressor.

Some advantageous features and variants are set out in the following.

Said epicyclic gearbox may be multi-stage and more particularly two-stage.

Said epicyclic gearbox may comprise at least two (more particularly at least three) intermediate shafts transmitting rotation from said input rotary member to said output rotary member, and integrating or mounting one toothed member or two toothed members of different diameters.

The axes of said at least two intermediate shafts may be arranged to rotate around the axis of the input rotary member of the epicyclic gearbox.

Said driver machine may be an electric motor.

Said driver machine may be a gas turbine.

Said driver machine may be a steam turbine.

Said gearbox may be mounted on the driver machine.

Said gearbox may be mounted on foot.

Said gearbox may be mounted both on the driver machine and on foot.

The compressor system may comprise further a single baseplate; in this case, said driver machine and said centrifugal compressor are mounted on said single baseplate.

Said centrifugal compressor may have a rated power in the range from 2 MW to 40 MW.

Said driver machine may comprise two output rotary members; in this case, the compressor system comprises an epicyclic gearbox and a centrifugal compressor for each of said two output rotary members.

The compressor system may comprise at least one centrifugal compressor in addition to the one already considered; different arrangements are possible.

According to a first possibility, said centrifugal compressor may comprise an output rotary member; in this case, the compressor system may comprise further: another gearbox comprising an input rotary member and an output rotary member, and another centrifugal compressor for compressing natural gas comprising an input rotary member; the output rotary member of said centrifugal compressor is coupled to the input rotary member of said another gearbox, and the output rotary member of said another gearbox is coupled to the input rotary member of said another centrifugal compressor.

According to a second possibility, another centrifugal compressor is coupled between said driver machine and said epicyclic gearbox.

The compressor system may comprise further a variable-speed drive system coupled to said driver machine and arranged to vary the rotation speed of said centrifugal compressor.

A second aspect of the present invention is a method of compressing natural gas.

According to embodiments thereof, a method of compressing natural gas through a centrifugal compressor provides that said centrifugal compressor is driven by a driver machine through an epicyclic gearbox having a gear ratio greater then one.

Some advantageous features and variants are set out in the following.

The gear ratio of said gearbox may be in the range from 5 to 20.

Said centrifugal compressor may be operated at a maximum rotation speed in the range from 14000 rpm to 28000 rpm.

Said centrifugal compressor may be operated at a pressure ratio in the range from 1.5 to 40.

Said centrifugal compressor may be operated so to provide an maximum output gas pressure in the range from 30 bar to 600 bar.

Said centrifugal compressor may be operated so to treat a maximum gas flow in the range from 1500 m3/hr to 100000 m3/hr.

Considering the output rotary member of said driver machine, said output rotary member may be used for driving two or more centrifugal compressors at different rotation speeds.

Said driver machine may be operated at variable rotation speed.

A third aspect of the present invention is a plant, i.e. an upstream or a downstream plant.

According to an embodiments thereof, a plant comprises a compressor system for gas and this compressor system comprises: a driver machine comprising an output rotary member, an epicyclic gearbox comprising an input rotary member and an output rotary member, and having a gear ratio greater than one thus increasing the rotation speed from input to output, and a centrifugal compressor for compressing gas comprising an input rotary member; wherein the output rotary member of said driver machine is coupled to the input rotary member of said epicyclic gearbox, and wherein the output rotary member of said epicyclic gearbox is coupled to the input rotary member of said centrifugal compressor.

The plant may be of the upstream type, in particular of the offshore upstream type.

The plant may be of the downstream type.

Said compressor system may comprise one or more of the technical features set out above.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated herein and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate embodiments of the present invention and, together with the description, explain these embodiments. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 shows schematically a prior art solution for compressing natural gas using a parallel-axes gearbox,

FIG. 2 shows schematically a prior art solution for generating electric power using an epicyclic gearbox,

FIG. 3 shows schematically the principle of the compressor systems disclosed herein according to one embodiment of the present invention,

FIG. 4 shows schematically a first embodiment of the present invention of a compressor system,

FIG. 5 shows schematically a second embodiment of the present invention of a compressor system,

FIG. 6 shows schematically a third embodiment of the present invention of a compressor system,

FIG. 7 shows a schematic side view of a fourth embodiment of the present invention of a compressor system,

FIG. 8 shows a schematic side view of a fifth embodiment of the present invention of a compressor system,

FIG. 9 shows a schematic side view of a sixth embodiment of the present invention of a compressor system,

FIG. 10 shows schematically a seventh embodiment of the present invention of a compressor system,

FIG. 11 shows schematically a eighth embodiment of the present invention of a compressor system,

FIG. 12 shows schematically a ninth embodiment of the present invention of a compressor system,

FIG. 13 shows a graph corresponding to a reasonable limit for using parallel-axes gearboxes in combination with gas turbines in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention in accordance with the present invention,

FIG. 14 shows two graphs corresponding to a reasonable limit for using respectively parallel-axes gearboxes and epicyclic gearboxes in combination with electric motors in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention,

FIG. 15 shows a conceptual flowchart of a method for compressing natural gas in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, and

FIG. 16 shows schematically an offshore platform in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following description of the exemplary embodiments refers to the accompanying drawings. The same reference numbers in different drawings identify the same or similar elements. The following detailed description does not limit the invention. Instead, the scope of the invention is defined by the appended claims.

Reference throughout the specification to “one embodiment” or “an embodiment” means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with an embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the subject matter disclosed. Thus, the appearance of the phrases “in one embodiment” or “in an embodiment” in various places throughout the specification is not necessarily referring to the same embodiment. Further, the particular features, structures or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments.

FIG. 3 shows schematically the principle of the compressor systems disclosed herein.

This compressor system comprises: a driver machine DR, an epicyclic gearbox EGB, and a centrifugal compressor CC for compressing natural gas.

Driver machine DR comprises a output rotary member DO; the epicyclic gearbox EGB comprises an input rotary member GI and an output rotary member GO; the centrifugal compressor CC comprises an input rotary member CI.

It is to be noted that all rotary members in FIG. 3 are shown as shafts protruding from the boxes of the respective machines only for an easier understanding.

The output rotary member DO of the driver machine DR is coupled to the input rotary member GI of the epicyclic gearbox EGB; the output rotary member GO of the epicyclic gearbox EGB is coupled to the input rotary member CI of the centrifugal compressor CC.

It is to be noted that these couplings are shown in FIG. 3 as dashed lines in order to shown that other devices and/or machines might be connected between the driver machine DR and the epicyclic gearbox EGB and between the epicyclic gearbox EGB and the centrifugal compressor CC; anyway, according to some typical embodiments of the compressor system, as shown for example in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 and FIG. 6, no machines are connected in-between.

The gear ratio of the epicyclic gearbox EGB is greater than one (typically much greater than one) thus increasing the rotation speed from input to output; this is schematically represented by the different number of arcs at its input, i.e. the member GI, and at its output, i.e. the member GO; specifically, next to the input rotary member GI there is one arc, meaning low rotation speed, and next to the output rotary member GO there are three arcs, meaning high rotation speed.

It is worth clarifying that, in an epicyclic gearing, two or more outer gears (typically three or more outer gears), called “planet gears”, mesh with a central gear, called “sun gear”. The “planet gears” may be fixed or arranged to revolve around the “sun gear”. When the “planet gears” are arranged to revolve around the “sun gear”, an outer ring gear, called “annulus”, surrounds and meshes with the “planet gears”.

The use of an epicyclic gearbox instead of a parallel-axes gearbox allows to save substantial (lateral) space, particularly in terms of footprint of the compressor system; this is due to the fact to the input and output axes being inline instead of parallel and laterally spaced.

The use of an epicyclic gearbox instead of a parallel-axes gearbox allows to use a simpler gearbox lubrication system as the lubrication requirements of an epicyclic gearbox are lower than the lubrication requirements of a parallel-axes gearbox.

It is to be noted that the principle described above may be embodied in many different ways. The configuration and design of the specific embodiments are influenced by many factors including, for example, the composition and/or the pressure of the natural gas coming from the gas well or oil well.

The centrifugal compressors to be considered for the present patent application in the field of Oil & Gas”, such as those labeled CC, CC1, CC2, CC3, CCA, CCB, CCC in the figures, have typically a rated power in the range from 2 MW to 40 MW.

For the present invention it is important that, during operation, the centrifugal compressor rotates at high rotation speed; this is achieved by an epicyclic gearbox with a (relatively) high gear ratio.

According to some embodiments, the gear ratio of the epicyclic gearbox is in the range from 5 to 20. In order to achieve such high gear ratios, multi-stage epicyclic gearing may be used. Two-stage epicyclic gearing may be a good compromise in terms of radial size, axial size, weight and gear ratio of the gearbox.

According to some embodiments, the epicyclic gearbox comprises at least two intermediate shafts transmitting rotation from the input rotary member to the output rotary member of the gearbox; each of these intermediate shafts may integrate or mount two toothed members of different diameters located at opposite sides of the intermediate shaft so that gear ratio is increased in a limited space; these intermediate shafts may be arranged to rotate around the axis of the input rotary member of the epicyclic gearbox; more particularly, three or five intermediate shafts, symmetrically located around the input rotary member, are used. The solution of gearbox just described may be considered a specific type of two-stage epicyclic gearbox, the two stages being integrated in a single arrangement, and is called “compound gearing”.

In the embodiment of FIG. 4, an electric motor EM is used as a driver machine; using electric motor for compressing natural gas is typical of upstream applications particularly for offshore platforms. The compressor system of FIG. 4 comprises the electric motor EM, an epicyclic gearbox EGB1 and a centrifugal compressor CC1 connected in train configuration.

In the embodiment of FIG. 5, a gas turbine GT is used as a driver machine. The compressor system of FIG. 5 comprises the gas turbine GT, an epicyclic gearbox EGB2 and a centrifugal compressor CC2 connected in train configuration.

In the embodiment of FIG. 6, a steam turbine ST is used as a driver machine. The compressor system of FIG. 6 comprises the steam turbine ST, an epicyclic gearbox EGB3 and a centrifugal compressor CC3 connected in train configuration.

The choice of the driver machine is influenced by many factors.

FIG. 7 and FIG. 8 and FIG. 9 emphasizes the construction of the compressor system even if in a very schematic way. These figures do not specify the kind of driver machine used, and they show simply a driver machine DR, an epicyclic gearbox EGB and a centrifugal compressor CC connected in train configuration.

All the embodiments of FIG. 7 and FIG. 8 and FIG. 9 comprises a single baseplate BP and provide that the driver machine DR and the centrifugal compressor CC are mounted on the baseplate BP.

In FIG. 7, the epicyclic gearbox EGB is mounted only on the baseplate BP.

In FIG. 9, the epicyclic gearbox EGB is mounted only on the driver machine DR.

In FIG. 8, the epicyclic gearbox EGB is mounted partially on the baseplate BP and partially on the driver machine DR.

It appears from FIG. 7 and FIG. 8 and FIG. 9, that, according to the present invention, mounting of the epicyclic gearbox on the centrifugal compressor is not the preferred choice. In fact, the choice and design of the centrifugal compressor are already difficult and depend on the specific application and application conditions of the compressor system; therefore, it is preferable to avoid complicating further the choice and design of the centrifugal compressor by considering also the need of mounting a gearbox on it.

As it is schematically highlighted in FIG. 7 and FIG. 8 and FIG. 9, mounting directly the epicyclic gearbox on the driver machine (typically on an electric motor) leads to a very compact arrangement, i.e. with a small footprint. A double mounting (see FIG. 8) may be a compromise between size of the footprint and mechanical complication of the design of the flanges of the driver machine and the gearbox.

The choice of the mounting of the epicyclic gearbox is influenced by many factors.

Mounting of the gearbox directly on the driver machine allows to save substantial (longitudinal) space, particularly in terms of footprint of the compressor system.

Other embodiments of the compressor system comprise a number of machines higher than three connected in train configuration as shown for example in FIG. 10, FIG. 11, FIG. 12.

In FIG. 10, there is shown an embodiment wherein the driver machine DR comprises two output rotary members, in particular on opposite sides, and there is an epicyclic gearbox (EGBA and EGBB) and a centrifugal compressor (CCA and CCB) for each of the two output rotary members; this may be considered a double-train configuration.

In FIG. 11, the compressor system comprises, in addition to the centrifugal compressor CC, another centrifugal compressor CCC; in this case, the compressor CC has an output rotary member (not shown in the figure). Another gearbox GB is provided so that the two compressors CC and CCC may rotate at different rotation speeds.

The mechanical connection is a single-train configuration; the rotary members of the machines are not shown in the figure. The output rotary member of the driver machine DR is connected to the input rotary member of the epicyclic gearbox EGB, the output rotary member of the epicyclic gearbox EGB is connected to the input rotary member of the compressor CC, the output rotary member of the compressor CC is connected to the input rotary member of the gearbox GB; the output rotary member of the gearbox GB is connected to the input rotary member of the compressor CCC. Comparing FIG. 11 with FIG. 1, one can realize that other machines are mechanically connected downstream to compressor CC, and as part of the same train.

The fluid connection in the embodiment of FIG. 11 provides that the gas compressed by compressor CC is further compressed by compressor CCC; therefore, in general there is no need that the rotation speed of compressor CCC is much higher than the rotation speed of compressor CC; therefore, gearbox GB does not need to be an epicyclic gearbox (having a high gear ratio), although it might be.

Also in FIG. 12, the compressor system comprises, in addition to the centrifugal compressor CC, another centrifugal compressor CCC. Another gearbox GB might also be provided.

The mechanical connection is a single-train configuration; the rotary members of the machines are not shown in the figure. The output rotary member of the driver machine DR is connected to the input rotary member of the gearbox GB, the output rotary member of the gearbox GB is connected to the input rotary member of the compressor CCC, the output rotary member of the compressor CCC is connected to the input rotary member of the epicyclic gearbox EGB; the output rotary member of the epicyclic gearbox EGB is connected to the input rotary member of the compressor CC. Comparing FIG. 12 with FIG. 1, one can realize that other machines are mechanically connected between the epicyclic gearbox EGB and the driver machine DR, and as part of the same train.

The fluid connection in the embodiment of FIG. 12 provides that the gas compressed by compressor CCC is further compressed by compressor CC. The rotation speed of compressor CC is much higher than the rotation speed of compressor CCC due to the presence of the epicyclic gearbox EGB; therefore, gearbox GB may also be omitted or, if present (as in FIG. 12), gearbox GB does not need to be an epicyclic gearbox (having a high gear ratio), although it might be.

Especially if an electric motor is used as a driver machine in the compressor system, it is useful to provide in the compressor system a variable-speed drive (VSD) system coupled to the driver machine and arranged to vary the rotation speed of the centrifugal compressor or compressors. For example a reliable four-poles AC induction electric motor operating at a frequency of 50 Hz may be combined with a reliable VSD system able to vary the frequency from 0 Hz up to 75 Hz; this result in a rotation speed from 0 rpm to 2250 rpm.

In the graphs of FIG. 13 and FIG. 14, the Rated power is expressed in MWatts and the Gear ratio is expressed as a pure number.

The graph of FIG. 13, labeled PAGB, has been derived by the Inventors and corresponds to a reasonable limit for using parallel-axes gearboxes in combination with gas turbines; this graph assumes a rotation speed of the gas turbine acting as a driver machine of about 6000 rpm; above this limit, parallel-axes gearboxes can not be used and epicyclic gearboxes have to be contemplated.

A similar graph may be provided for steam turbines.

The graphs of FIG. 14, labeled PAGB and EGB, have been derived by the Inventors and correspond to a reasonable limit for using respectively parallel-axes gearboxes and epicyclic gearboxes in combination with electric motors; these graphs assume a rotation speed of the electric motor acting as a driver machine of about 1500 rpm (50 Hz operation); very similar graphs may be provided for a rotation speed of about 1800 rpm (60 Hz operation); the best area of application (according to the current technologies) of the combination of a four-poles AC induction electric motor and an epicyclic gearbox is comprised between these two graphs; it is to be considered that four-poles AC induction electric motors are certified to be used for very high power applications (for example 2-40 MW) even in environments with risks of explosions due to a specific gas mixture being compressed.

It is worth clarifying that, although FIG. 14 refers to use of four-poles motors, the present invention does not exclude the use of two-poles motors.

Additionally, it is worth noting that, although FIG. 14 refers to the compound epicyclic gearboxes (i.e. having a gear ratio greater than about 10 or 11), the present invention does not exclude the use of “simple” (i.e. not compound) epicyclic gearboxes when the required gear ratio is lower (for example lower than 10 or 11).

The compression of gas in the above described embodiments, is carried out, at least partially, by means of a centrifugal compressor driven by a driver machine through an epicyclic gearbox having a gear ratio greater then one.

As shown in FIG. 15, in general, a centrifugal compressor CC is arranged (step 1610) according to an appropriate design and/or choice, a driver machine DR is arranged (step 1620) according to an appropriate design and/or choice, an epicyclic gearbox EGB is arranged (step 1630) according to an appropriate design and/or choice; by rotating the driver machine DR (step 1640) also the centrifugal compressor CC is rotated by means of the epicyclic gearbox EGB; clearly, the gas is provided to the inlet of the centrifugal compressor CC before starting the driver machine DR.

The epicyclic gearbox is used for reaching a high rotation speed of the compressor; therefore, in an embodiment, the gear ratio of said epicyclic gearbox is in the range from 5 to 20, depending on the application; the epicyclic gearbox is designed accordingly.

In an embodiment, the centrifugal compressor is operated at a maximum rotation speed in the range from 14000 rpm to 28000 rpm, depending on the application; with present technologies, the upper limit is chosen at about 22000 rpm; the centrifugal compressor is designed accordingly.

A high rotation speed (achieved through epicyclic gearing) allows to use more compact and more efficient centrifugal compressors.

In an embodiment, the centrifugal compressor is operated at a pressure ratio in the range from 1.5 to 40, depending on the application. Although very high pressure ratios are desirable, the mixture of the gas influence the choice of the pressure ratio: for example, if a natural gas is rich of hydrogen, the lower part of the above mentioned range is preferable due to the risk of explosions.

The centrifugal compressor is operated so to provide an maximum output gas pressure in the range from 30 bar to 600 bar, depending on the application.

The centrifugal compressor is operated so to treat a maximum gas flow in the range from 1500 m3/hr to 100000 m3/hr, depending on the application.

The ranges of parameters just set out for operating the centrifugal compressor influence the technical features of the centrifugal compressor as well as the technical features of the driver machine and the epicyclic gearbox.

Step 1640 provides to rotate the driver machine of the compressor system and consequently any centrifugal compressor of the compressor system connected or coupled thereto.

The rotation speed is often constant during stable operation, i.e. regime. In an embodiment, the rotation speed is varied, for example during start-up or if different regimes are contemplated; for this purpose a VSD system is used.

According to some embodiments, there are more than one centrifugal compressors and the method provides to drive by means of the same driver machine two or more centrifugal compressors at different rotation speeds. This is useful for example when driving two cascaded compression stages.

The above described compressor systems and methods are typically applied and used in plants of the “Oil & Gas” industry, i.e. in “upstream” and/or “downstream” plants.

FIG. 16 shows an offshore platform OP comprising a compressor system CS feeding compressed natural gas to a pipeline PL; this is an example of an “upstream” application. Alternatively, the compressor system CS may be used at an offshore platform to produce compressed gas, to be injected into a well.

Very good results have been achieved by combining an electric motor (especially a four-pole electric motor), and epicyclic gearbox (especially a compound epicyclic gearbox) and a centrifugal compressor and using this combination as a compressor system such as the one shown in FIG. 16.

An particular example of a “downstream” application may be the compression of ammonia.

At the light of the above, a person skilled in the art understands the advantages of the embodiments just described and the embodiments falling with the appended claims.

Some advantages of the centrifugal compressor of the compressor system according to embodiments of the present invention are the following: reduction in the size, improvement in efficiency, reduction in weight, and reduction in footprint.

Some advantages of the driver machine of the compressor system according to embodiments of the present invention are the following: possibility to use lower power driver machines, possibility to use lower speed driver machines, reduction in weight, and reduction in footprint.

Some advantages of the gearbox according to embodiments of the present invention are the following: lower weight, lower size, lower footprint, lower lubrication oil consumption, and higher efficiency (up to 1%).

Some advantages of the baseplate of the compressor system according to embodiments of the present invention are the following: lower size, and lower weight.

A person skilled in the art understands that each of the above listed advantages applies to distinct embodiments to a different extent.

This written description uses examples to disclose the invention, including the preferred embodiments, and also to enable any person skilled in the art to practice the invention, including making and using any devices or systems and performing any incorporated methods. The patentable scope of the invention is defined by the claims, and may include other examples that occur to those skilled in the art. Such other examples are intended to be within the scope of the claims if they have structural elements that do not differ from the literal language of the claims, or if they include equivalent structural elements with insubstantial differences from the literal languages of the claims.