You Ask The Questions… & Hycomp Answers
This Question & Answer page is a place where Hycomp invites you to ask us questions and we will respond and post the answers here. We would like to answer any questions you may have about Hycomp, our products or anything compressor engineering related. Please submit your questions by clicking on the “ASK A QUESTION” button.
Click on one of the questions below to be directed to the corresponding answer
How do we move forward addressing these with confidence?
What, When, Where, Why & How?
Volumetric flow measurements can be confusing and some equipment manufacturers tend to be a little vague in order to reflect positively on the performance of their equipment. The first reason for the confusion is the simple fact that gases are compressible. As such, variations in pressure, temperature, and humidity significantly change the volume and density properties of the gas. Additionally there are many variations in the “standard” definitions for the different flow rate measurements. It can all seem pretty confusing.
Standard Cubic Feet per Minute (SCFM) is used as a common reference for flow rate performance. However, there are at least 13 recognized variations to the “standard” conditions, published by agencies like CAGI, NIST, ANSI, ISO, EPA, U.S. Army, etc. At Hycomp, we primarily use the standard conditions of Pressure (14.696 psia) and , Temperature (60 F). SCFM is used mostly as a common reference point for comparing the performance of different pieces of equipment.
Actual Cubic Feet per Minute (ACFM) is used to express the volumetric flow based on defined pressure and temperature conditions at the location in the system where the measurement is being taken. ACFM could reflect the flow at the inlet to a compressor. ACFM could reflect the flow at the discharge of an air booster. ACFM could reflect the flow at the point of use of plastic bottle blowing equipment. It all depends on what is defined. It is important not to confuse ACFM with atmospheric conditions at the site, although since this could be part of the “system”, ACFM and atmospheric conditions could be same.
Inlet Cubic Feet per Minute (ICFM) is used to express the volumetric flow based on the actual pressure and temperature conditions at the inlet to the equipment. ICFM and ACFM at inlet conditions are, of course, identical. Sometimes ICFM is used interchangeably with the term Free Air Delivery (FAD).
The generic term, Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM), is used at times by manufacturers, but it is inherently misleading since it is not tied to any frame of reference.
With all of these units of measure, the most critical step to understanding them well is to be sure that the definitions and the standard conditions being referenced by all equipment manufacturers and users are matching up with each other. Without that, you are literally comparing apples to bananas. There are plenty of resources on the internet that can help with definitions of standards and making conversion calculations so that the comparisons are valid. Proper understanding and use of common definitions will certainly help eliminate confusion.
A few general rules to apply are:
1. Spend some time with equipment providers and equipment users to be sure that everyone is using the same standard definitions.
2. In general, use SCFM to compare equipment capacities
3. In general, use ACFM to make calculations regarding actual conditions and equipment loading.
4. Always consider the worst case site and/or system conditions as part of the calculations.
5. Call Hycomp and arrange an E2E discussion to sort it all out.
Mike Byrd of Air Services Company recently had a complex booster application for PET plastic bottle blowing that he was working on with his customer. The system involved multiple equipment providers. The customer was having trouble getting clear information regarding flow requirements and specifications. During an Engineering to Engineer (E2E) discussion with the end user, all the parties were able to clarify the flow measurement information by settling on the same standard definitions as a common baseline. A consensus was reached quickly and the right solution was proposed.
After that E2E discussion, Mike reported back to Hycomp:
”I just want to let you know how well the E2E conversation we had last week went. Shortly after our conversation ended, I received a phone call from my customer thanking me for taking the time to speak with them. Their high level management personnel all had questions that they needed answered so they could make a more educated decision on their equipment purchase.”
Mike concluded, “By the end of the conversation we all had a much better understanding of compressed air boosters, flow ratings, the customer’s process and the Hycomp solution. I am confident that this conversation “boosted” our odds at getting an order and gave the customer more confidence in the Hycomp product. Thanks for your help.”
Mike was right, 7 days later, the customer issued a purchase order for a Hycomp Oil Free Air Booster.
Proper installation has a direct relationship with the operation and longevity of a compressor. When an installation is done right, the compressor is mounted to a secure foundation to minimize vibration and ensure correct operation.
When installation is performed incorrectly the compressor may experience operational problems that can lead to significant maintenance issues and unwanted downtime. The three most important factors when building a foundation for your Hycomp compressor are: Location, Foundation Construction and Pre Installation Technical Advice.
Many factors must be considered for optimal compressor location. Locate the compressor in a dry, well ventilated and well lit area that accommodates inspection and maintenance access. An unobstructed machine boundary of at least 18” must be arranged to provide adequate air flow and service space around the compressor.
Installation in locations exposed to ambient subfreezing temperatures is not recommended. Exposure to direct sunlight, rain, wind, dust, snow, moisture, and other adverse environmental elements is not recommended and will reduce service life and increase maintenance requirements. If it is necessary to install the unit out of doors, provide a rain cover or a completely enclosed shed to prevent corrosion. If the installation location will experience operating temperatures below 32°F, a properly sized crankcase heater must be installed.
Rotating machinery should always display appropriate restrictive warnings and cautions to minimize risk of injury to personnel. Even though Hycomp compressors are not as loud as other pumps, rotating machinery does produce noise. Understand your service environment and prepare accordingly.
Proper foundation construction ensures smooth operation, reduces vibration and can extend the life of your compressor. Hycomp Service Technicians have performed many factory startups, and have seen differing levels of installation quality. Here are a few things to look for when building on an existing foundation, “For installation on an existing floor – Check the floor plan and establish how the floor was constructed, for example: concrete aggregate/psi, how thick is the floor, how well was the floor reinforced and how old is the foundation. Based on these facts – get expert advice for what will work best for your situation.”
Robert James, Hycomp President and Engineering Manager, understands that a new foundation may not always be possible, “In existing floors, a Drillco Maxi-Bolt is a good choice, as it actually utilizes a special undercut hole which allows the anchoring to be rock solid.”
When building a new foundation it is important to not cut corners and utilize the following parameters. The foundation should rest on solid bedrock or compacted earth or gravel, but not a combination of the two. The pad should be composed of 4,000 psi cured concrete reinforced with ASTM A615 #4 billet steel re-bar cross laced on 16” centers located 3” above the base.
The amount of concrete used to form the pad should exceed the weight of the compressor by 3 to 5 times. SAE Grade 5 “J” bolting of appropriate length and size should be used in the pad to provide baseplate mounting. Use of a template to support and position the bolting +/– 1/16” while setting concrete is recommended. Securing bolting to existing foundations with drilled holes and adhesives is not recommended unless expert advice is available. Expert advice is also recommended for installation of other forms of mechanical anchors. Call Hycomp if you are unsure what size to use or for technical advice on different anchors.
Hycomp Service Technicians instruct further on compressor mounting and shimming, “Installers need to utilize all skid mounting holes intended for anchoring. Compressors must be level. Use shims as needed. Shimming of skids (on concrete and steel foundations) may be required to prevent excessive vibration. Steel fabricated foundations must be adequately engineered to support the weight and vibration of the compressor.”
Epoxy based grouting is required to firmly seat and attach the compressor skid to the concrete foundation for newly constructed or existing foundations. ITW Philadelphia Resins brand “Chockfast Red” grout is recommended. “I think there are a few general pieces of advice that should be considered for grouting of fabricated channel skids, such as: do not fill it up to the point that one cannot access the compressor or motor mount bolting, drill for drain holes if located out of doors, plumb oil drain to skid edge, etc.,” said McGregor.
Sealing of grouts and concrete is recommended to prevent contamination by oil and moisture. The concrete slab should be chipped to expose 50% of the aggregate and to provide a rough bonding surface for the epoxy. Dowels should be installed on new exposed concrete to prevent edge lifting. The concrete foundation should be dry and free of oil before pouring grout. Sleeve all foundation bolts to prevent adhesion and allow bolt stretch. Steel baseplates should be sanded and cleaned to provide adequate adhesion surface.
Pre Installation Technical Advice:
Unlimited tech advice and support is included at no additional charge with every Hycomp compressor.
Hycomp technicians are available to assist you 24 hours a day. Hycomp technicians like Todd McGregor are ready to answer your questions, “Our customers can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. We will do our best to get them the answers they need so their Hycomp equipment is operating in a correct manner.”
What is an Air Booster?
Air boosters take pre-compressed air from an existing network (your plant air system) or from a low-pressure compressor and increase it to the required higher pressure. A Hycomp Oil Free Air Booster is a specially designed reciprocating compressor that accepts elevated inlet pressures, usually below 150 psig, and boosts that pressure up as far as 1500 psig.
When & where is it applied?
When plant pressure isn’t enough, an air booster is often the best solution. Standard compressed air systems in industrial facilities are typically designed for pressures of 80 to 130 psig. When higher pressures are required it is very effective to use a portion of your plant air and apply an air booster to obtain the desired higher pressure.
Other methods of acquiring higher pressure air such as stand-alone air compressors, air amplifiers and increasing the pressure of the entire plant are more costly and less efficient. It simply takes more power to start from a standstill, while an air booster gets a running start because it receives pre-compressed air.
How does it work?
Think of an air booster as a second or third stage to your existing air compressor. An air booster connects into your plant air system via a receiver tank, piping and a discharge tank. These tanks are used to dampen pulsation created by the reciprocating movement of the booster and provide a small amount of storage capacity.
Inside a Hycomp Air Booster – Hycomp Oil Free Air Boosters are built using a reciprocating design. However, there are five major factors concerning engineering and construction that provide a good inside look at how a Hycomp air booster works and why our air boosters are higher quality than the competition.
1. Oil Free – Every booster and compressor we manufacture is oil free. Your process remains clean and your air stream pure because oil never enters the compression cylinder.
2. Cast Iron & Steel Construction – Our major castings are iron or steel. Unlike aluminum, these materials hold their shape and don’t warp at elevated temperatures. They provide additional vibration dampening and allow Hycomp boosters to operate for years without major component replacement.
3. Plenum Intake – Our unique “Plenum Intake” design receives air below the compression cylinder through the plenum chamber. This innovative style of intake and compression provides three major benefits
a. Cooling effect on rings and packings
b. Balanced piston rod loads
c. Internal air reservoir
4. Oil Isolation – Our distance piece and piston rod oil scrapers keep the oil isolated to the crosshead cylinder and crankcase and away from your compression. Oil scrapers remove oil from the piston rod while the open distance piece protects against oil vapor entering the air stream.
5. Pressure Oil Lubricated – Our crankcase is pressurized to provide generous lubrication to all moving parts. Unlike splash lubrication that spreads oil sporadically, the oil in our crankcase is liberally delivered with pinpoint accuracy. The Hycomp oil lubricated bottom end decreases running temperatures, allows for higher discharge pressures and provides longevity.
Hycomp Components: No Small Details – We believe there are no small details. From our heavy cast iron cylinders to our 14 gauge, powder coated steel beltguards, we cut no corners. The following are four examples of superior Hycomp components.
1. Valves – Hycomp valve bodies are made from only the highest quality 400 series stainless steels which have been heat treated for hardness and toughness. Our valve plates are machined precipitation hardenable stainless steel or crystallized PEEK, depending upon the pressures and temperatures of the service.
By design, our valve plates are frictionless guided so there is no valve cage wear. The port design of our valves has been refined to provide improved flow efficiency, saving power and decreasing valve impact forces. Our larger valves are dampened, providing additional wear reduction without sacrificing flow efficiency. And of course, all of our valves are removable with minimal effort and rebuildable on site.
2. Piston Rings – Our standard air booster piston ring is a PTFE based material, with bronze, molybdenum disulfide and several proprietary fillers. The bronze provides excellent heat conductance and wear resistance, while the PTFE and moly are natural oil-free lubricants. Our proprietary fillers add to the lubricity of the ring while stabilizing the other fillers against oxidation.
Our angle cut design allows for flexing of the ring end to seal the gap better than butt cut designs, while retaining its strength vs. step cut designs. In smaller cylinders where gap leakage becomes significant, we use a 2-piece ‘L’ style design that removes the end gap by using an inner and outer ring for sealing.
3. Rod Packings – Piston rod packings prevent air leakage out of the booster, while providing pressure on the underside of the pistons to balance the rod loads. Our tangentially cut segmented packings are free floating and self adjusting for long wear life. The design inherently continues to seal as the packing wears. A pair of packings are pinned together at the proper rotational offset to ensure that the leakpath created by the cuts are sealed.
Unlike chevron type packings, our segmented packings do not need constant adjustment to ensure a tight seal. While they are more difficult to manufacture than a simple chevron shape, our customers agree they are worth the trouble-free service they provide.
4. Piston Rod Oil Scrapers – Oil scrapers perform the essential service of preventing oil from migrating out of the crankcase and into the air stream. Combined with our open distance piece design which allows residual oil vapor to escape the machine, our piston rod oil scrapers provide a leak free seal on our pressure oil lubricated bottom end.
Our segmentally cut scrapers are based on a similar principal to our gas packings, as they continue to adjust as they wear. The sharp edges machined into the brass scraper remove oil from the rods, while the liberal porting allows the oil to flow back into the crankcase. As they are a softer material than the piston rod, the brass scraper wears while the rod does not.
Why choose an Air Booster?
Cost – When combined with your plant air, a Hycomp air booster pays for itself in short order. Because an air booster starts with an elevated inlet pressure, you are using a smaller machine to meet your requirements.
Our air boosters use less horsepower and still provide higher pressures. It takes more power to begin compression from ambient air. For example: when you are compressing ambient air from 0 psig to 600 psig the compression ratio is 41.8:1. However, when compressing air from 100 psig to 600 psig the compression ratio is only 5.4:1. A smaller compression ratio equates to smaller equipment, which makes your system less expensive to purchase, install, operate and maintain.
Hycomp Air Boosters do not experience air loss. What you put in is what you get out. Unlike pneumatically driven air amplifiers that use up to 60% of your air flow to power the machine, our air boosters are electrically driven.
Continuous Duty – Traditionally continuous duty is defined as: When unload time is less than load time per hour. Our compressors are engineered for slower running speeds to handle 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year of continuous operation.
Completely Modular – We offer 2 cooling methods, 9 block sizes, 6 packing arrangements and 20 cylinder sizes. The modular nature of Hycomp compressors and boosters allows us to meet your needs rather than you changing to meet ours.
You are not locked into specific suction or discharge pressures because our modular style of construction creates nearly endless compression possibilities, which equates to custom built air boosters without the custom price.
Bottom Line: When your plant air pressure isn’t enough, an air booster is the most efficient and cost effective choice for worry-free and oil-free continuous duty high pressure air.
Nitrogen vs. Air Questions?
What is unique about a nitrogen booster vs. an air booster? If air is mostly Nitrogen, couldn’t I just use an air booster?
Nitrogen boosters and air boosters are similar in design, in fact when put side by side, it is difficult to tell the difference. The primary differences between the two are the piston rings and gas packing materials. While the physical design of these “soft goods” is exactly the same, the materials used for the rings and packings in a Hycomp Nitrogen Booster are selected specifically to perform well with nitrogen and will ensure a longer life for your nitrogen booster.
Oil Free Questions?
When to consider oil free? Why does it matter? Who would it matter to?
When an application requires high pressure nitrogen without oil contamination there are two approaches that can be used. An oil flooded compressor could be used along with high pressure filtration or an oil free high pressure compressor/booster could be used.
When using an oil free compressor or booster, no oil filtration is necessary because oil is never allowed to contaminate your nitrogen. With an oil flooded compressor or booster the gas stream must then be filtered and cleaned at a higher pressure. High pressure filters are expensive and require continuous maintenance and replacement.
It’s a question of what matters to you more, saving a little money on the initial purchase or saving a lot of money later by drastically decreasing the amount of maintenance needed to keep the compressor running.
What affect will the Hycomp booster have on my nitrogen gas flow?
The Hycomp booster compressor has been engineered to provide a tight seal. We have also been 3rd party tested which confirmed a 0.0% detectable introduction of crankcase lubricant into the nitrogen flow stream.
A very small amount of the gas may leak past the gas packings on the piston rods into the atmosphere. This amount can vary depending on multiple factors including inlet pressure, packing arrangement and compressor rpm. The amount of loss is almost undetectable while the packing seals are dynamically loaded. The leak rate increases when the compressor is idle, however this is easily managed by using an inlet solenoid valve.
The piston rings are a dry PTFE blended material that holds up extremely well under our recommended service conditions. The nature of oil free reciprocating compressors does allow a minute amount of the ring material to be introduced to the gas flow.
Under normal operating conditions, our rings are running in excess of 8,000 hours prior to exhibiting wear requiring replacement. Very sensitive applications under which this low level of impurity is unacceptable will require installation of a high quality filter suitable for the specific application.
Hycomp compressors are first and foremost, built for safety. Natural gas is often considered a dangerous gas because of its flammable and explosive nature.
Hycomp is an industry leader in designing, engineering and manufacturing natural gas compressors that are not only safe to use and operate, but are specifically tailored to your exact application. It is our job to be the experts; you do not need to know everything about natural gas.
Hycomp distributors and end users have been trusting Hycomp for over 40 years. Our compressors keep your personnel, product and process safe and secure. Your safety is our first priority and we take that job very seriously by thoroughly investigating each individual application down to the gas mixture.
One of the most important things to consider when compressing natural gas is to know and understand the gas mixture being compressed. When dealing with gas mixtures it is important to examine not only the individual gas constituents and their individual effect on design, but also to examine the mixture as a whole as certain gases interact with others to become more corrosive, toxic or flammable than in their pure form. Natural gas is no exception to this rule.
Compressed natural gas flowing down a pipeline to consumers is usually quite pure; however, when being originally harvested from an oil well, there can be many variations in the mixture. Dealing with gas mixtures is a very normal topic for Hycomp to handle. You can trust Hycomp to ask the right questions to ensure we know exactly what we are dealing with so we can provide the safest and best possible solution.
Gas mixture is very important in any application that is utilizing natural gas, such as: “town gas” refinement (the gas used in residential housing), oil production natural gas tank farm vapor recovery, feedstock gas for hydrogen generation and Combined Heat and Power (CHP).
Absolute containment of every gas we compress is paramount. Hycomp utilizes piston ring and piston rod gas packing materials that are specifically matched to the gas or gases being compressed to ensure maximum containment.
Hycomp stocks seven different gas packing materials to meet your needs. Unlike chevron type packings, our segmented packings do not need constant adjustment to ensure a tight seal; they automatically adjust as they wear, which lowers maintenance and increases efficiency.
Compressing natural gas is one of Hycomp’s many strengths; trust Hycomp to be the expert your application needs and we will help you get the job done right.
We stand behind our product 100% and when warranty issues arise we want to resolve those issues as fast and accurately as possible.
At Hycomp, we are very serious about our compressors. When an issue is covered by our warranty, we will do what it takes to make the situation right and build on our relationship of trust with you.
Our desire, as a compressor manufacturer, is to not only satisfy your needs as our customer, but to earn and deserve your trust.
We have designed our warranty resolution system to protect the end-user and be as worry-free for our distributors as possible. Hycomp warrants all compressors against defects in workmanship and materials under normal use and service for 12 months from date of factory shipment. Hycomp warranty issues are handled in four simple steps.
Step 1: Contact Hycomp
If you think a compressor or component has failed due to defects in workmanship or materials within the warranty timeframe, the first step is to contact Hycomp. When you contact Hycomp concerning an existing compressor, we need your compressor serial number. We use that number in connection to our compressor tracking database, which helps us properly identify you and your compressor. We are also able to view your compressor’s history so that we may better serve your current and future needs.
Step 2: Purchase Replacement Parts
Unscheduled down time can be costly and we try to minimize it for you as much as possible. To get your compressor up and running as fast as possible, simply purchase the parts you need from Hycomp as you normally would. We can usually get those parts shipped out to you that same day. This way you will get the parts you need before the damaged parts make it back to Hycomp for warranty inspection.
We keep our shelves fully stocked so our distributors don’t have to. We do this for two reasons: 1) So our distributors don’t need to maintain a costly full inventory of Hycomp replacement parts, and 2) Our end-users gain peace of mind knowing that the parts they need are available and they can get those parts as fast as possible.
Step 3: Ship Possible Warranty Parts to Hycomp
A rapid return of parts equates to a rapid credit for the replacement parts. After your replacement parts are on the way from our factory, obtain a Return Goods Authorization (RGA) number from the Hycomp factory and ship the damaged parts to Hycomp for warranty inspection.
Step 4: Warranty Approved, Credit Memo Issued
Upon receiving the components in question, a Hycomp Service Technician will inspect and disposition the part(s) as to whether or not the Hycomp warranty applies. As requested, a report will detail the technician’s findings and conclusions. If the parts are approved as being covered by the warranty then the process moves forward.
On many warranty situations cash never exchanges hands. If a customer was charged for replacement parts and the original damaged parts are then determined to be under warranty, a full refund is issued. The credit memo issued will explain exactly what is covered under warranty and will include proper compensation.
The Hycomp warranty approval process is one of the best in the industry because we get the parts you need out to you as fast as possible while we handle the warranty inspection here at the factory. Our goal is to get your process back on line with minimal downtime. We have been standing behind our product since 1969 and we will always be here when you need us.
The acronym XP, stands for explosion proof. When a compressor system is referred to as XP, it is inferring containment against a potential explosion.
Hycomp compressors and boosters are available with packaging and safety measures to protect personnel and property. Providing the XP is handled via two main categories: 1) Environment: containment of the flammable or explosive gas being compressed and the surrounding area.
2) Packaging: isolation of the electrical devices from any flammable or explosive gases present in the surrounding environment whether potentially explosive gases are present under normal or abnormal operating conditions.
Any time an explosive or flammable gas is being compressed, that compressor system must be explosion proof. When dealing with gas compression, not all explosions or fires ignited by a spark. Extreme surface temperature can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than a spark, simply because heat is something you cannot see and tends to be more unpredictable. For this purpose, explosion proof packaging must be employed when compressing any flammable gas.
If a production facility were compressing methane, propane, hydrogen or other hydrocarbon mixes, that gas is always present, simply because it is the gas being compressed. According to the North American industrial hazardous ratings, the compressor must be rated as a “Division 1”. A Div1 rating means that a potentially explosive substance is present under normal operating conditions.
The surrounding environment is also a very important factor when rating compressor packaging. For example, if nitrogen, or any nonflammable gas, is being compressed in an environment where an explosive media is always present, then the compressor and packaging must be rated to a Div1 because it will be continuously surrounded by that flammable media under normal operating conditions.
In comparison, if a non-flammable gas is being compressed in an area that may only experience the presence of an explosive media via external sources from time to time, it does not require a Div1 rating. Under the North American industrial hazardous ratings, a Division 2 rating means: potentially explosive substance present under abnormal operating conditions. Therefore, a Div 2 rating applies more to the surrounding environment.
For items such as the control panels, motors and VFDs safety is, once again, of the highest importance. Whether UL, IEC, ATEX / CE or other rating systems, Hycomp will work with the distributor and end-user to understand what is needed. Rating systems and requirements can change per region, and we will work to provide the required packaging to keep your process safe.
For The North American rating system, when a Division 1 rating is required, Hycomp has the answers. To provide a Div1 level of protection, Hycomp offers NEMA 7 control panel enclosures to ensure that the electric components inside the control panel are isolated from any dangerous gases. Meeting safety requirements goes further than just the control panel. All electric and mechanical equipment must also be packaged or enclosed correctly to protect against accidental explosions.
Hycomp has the experience and engineering expertise to handle the packaging and enclosures that your application requires. Our engineers get involved from the outset to provide the proper system packaging for the rating system of your region.