Rolls-Royce centrifugal barrel compressors have provided reliable service to many users in a wide variety of applications since their introduction in the mid-1950s. In 1968, a family of standard impellers was developed for use in each frame size, followed by additional families of other diameter impellers developed at various times to achieve more or less head per stage or lower flow capability. Various other upgrades have also taken place over the years, each leading to an improvement in performance and predictability. However, the performance levels that were being achieved consistently lagged behind those of the authors’ company’s pipeline compressor frame sizes. In 2006 it was decided to invest heavily in upgrading the company’s barrel compressor capabilities. This paper details some of the steps that were taken to develop a fully integrated upgrade of our most popular frame size, the RCB. The improvements in performance capabilities of the impellers in terms of efficiency and flow range are discussed together with the results of parametric studies to improve the inlet and discharge flow path configurations. A description of the validation testing of selected impellers at various relative Mach Numbers, undertaken in our single stage test rig, is also included.

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