Email id: /

Compressor Service And Maintenance

Compressor Maintenance Service

e are doing various type and various brands compressor sales and service such as a CARRIER, VOLTAS ,BITZER, HITACHI,SABROE, HANBELL, SEABIRD AND BOCK like semi hermetic, open type reciprocating and screw compressors, we are doing maintenance like total compressor overhauling, slide valve work, compressor motor rewinding.

Overview Of Chiller Compressors

In HVAC industry, the refrigeration machine that produces chilled water is referred to as a “Chiller”. A chiller package operates either on the principles of vapor compression or vapor absorption. The vapor compression system uses mechanical
energy in the form of electric motor to drive the cooling cycle whereas absorption chillers use heat to drive the process. The vapor compression chiller system, which is far more prominent in commercial buildings, consists of four major components: the compressor, evaporator, condenser and expansion device all packaged as a single unit. The classification of vapor compression chiller packages is generally by the type of compressor: centrifugal, reciprocating, and screw being the major ones.Chillers are the largest consumer of energy in a commercial building and it is therefore important to understand the relative benefits and limitations of various types in order to make the right economic decisions in chiller installation and operation

his course will talk about the type of compressor used in the water cooled chiller. The course is divided into 3 parts:

Part – I: Types of Chiller Compressors

Part – II: Comparison of Chiller Compressors

Part – III: Economic Evaluation of Chiller Systems


Most cooling systems, from residential air conditioners to large commercial and
industrial chillers, employ the refrigeration process known as the vapor compression cycle. At the heart of the vapor compression cycle is the mechanical compressor. Its function is: 1) to pump refrigerant through the cooling system and 2) to compress gaseous refrigerant in the system so that it can be condensed to liquid and absorb heat from the air or water that is being cooled or chilled.

Not all air-conditioning applications have the same capacity requirements, and for this reason the chillers are grouped by the type of compressor
1) Positive- displacement
2) Dynamic

Positive-displacement compressors physically compress the vaporized refrigerant
into a smaller volume and higher pressure, and include reciprocating, rotary, and scroll types. These deliver a constant volume of gas under a constant speed
Dynamic compressors increase vaporized refrigerant pressure by the kinetic
energy imparted on refrigerant by a rotating impeller. A centrifugal compressor is a dynamic compressor and is not a constant displacement type

Each type utilizes a specific and sometimes downright ingenious method to
pressurize refrigerant vapor. This course will focus on the various types of chiller compressors, their advantages, disadvantages, limitations and applications. In the text, the words, “chiller/s” and “compressor/s” have been used interchangeably and have the same meaning.

Reciprocating Chillers

Reciprocating compressors are positive displacement machines that use the reciprocating action of a piston inside a cylinder to compress refrigerant. As the piston moves downward, a vacuum is created inside the cylinder. Because the pressure above the intake valve is greater than the pressure below it, the intake valve is forced open and refrigerant is sucked into the cylinder. After the piston reaches its bottom position it begins to move upward. The intake valve closes, trapping the refrigerant inside the cylinder. As the piston continues to move upward it compresses the refrigerant, increasing its pressure. At a certain point the pressureexerted by the refrigerant forces the exhaust valve to open and the compressed refrigerant flows out of the cylinder. Once the piston reaches it top-most position, it starts moving downward again and the cycle is repeated.

These compressors are available in 3 configurations namely
1) Hermetic
2) Semi- hermetic and
3) Direct driven versions.
In a hermetic unit, the motor and compressor are enclosed in a common housing,
which is sealed. Because the components are not accessible for repair, the entire compressor unit must be replaced if it fails. The hermetic sealed units are most common in small capacities.

In the semi-hermetic unit the motor is also part of the unit, however it is not sealed. Semi-Hermetic compressors have the advantage over hermetic compressors in that they can be re-built a number of times if necessary giving a much longer service life. In a direct drive unit the motor and compressor are separated by a flexible coupling.

These types of units utilize older technology and are not commonly used today.
The main factors favoring reciprocating compressor is low cost and efficiency when applied in low capacities. Multiple reciprocating machines can be installed for higher building loads. Further advantages include simple controls and the ability to control the speed through the use of belt drives. Available in both air-cooled and water cooled heat rejection configurations, these chillers are available from 0.5 to 150 tons of refrigeration (TR*).

A major drawback of reciprocating chillers is their high level of maintenance requirements in comparison with other chiller types. Reciprocating chillers have more moving parts than centrifugal or rotary chillers, resulting in an increased need for wear-related maintenance activities.

Reciprocating chillers also generate high levels of noise and vibration. Special precautions must be taken to isolate the chillers from the facility to prevent transmission of machine-generated vibrations and noise.

Finally, reciprocating chillers are not well suited for applications with cooling loads in excess of 200 tons. As the units grow in capacity, their space requirements and first costs exceed those of other chiller types. In addition, the energy requirements for larger units exceed that of other chillers types.

Screw Chillers

Screw compressors are positive displacement machines that use helical rotors tocompress the refrigerant gas. As the rotors rotate they intermesh, alternately exposing and closing off interlobe spaces at the ends of the rotors. When an interlobe space at the intake end opens up, refrigerant is sucked into it. As the rotors continue to rotate the refrigerant becomes trapped inside the interlobe space and is forced along the length of the rotors. The volume of the interlobe space decreases and the refrigerant is compressed. The compressed refrigerant exists when the interlobe space reaches the other end. There are two types:

1) Single and
2) Twin screw configuration.

• A single-screw compressor uses a single main screw rotor meshing with two
gate rotors with matching teeth. The main screw is driven by the prime mover,
typically an electric motor.

• A twin-screw compressor consists of accurately matched rotors (one male
and one female) that mesh closely when rotating within a close tolerance
common housing. One rotor is driven while the other turns in a counterrotating motion. The twin-screw compressor allows better control and variations in suction pressure without much affecting the operation efficiency.

Available in air-cooled and water cooled configurations, screw chiller is available up to
750 tons of refrigeration.

With a relatively high compression ratio and few moving parts, screw chillers are compact, smaller and lighter than reciprocating and centrifugal chillers of the same cooling capacity. These also offer quieter, vibration-free operation and are well known for their robustness, simplicity, and reliability. They are designed for long periods of continuous operation, needing very little maintenance. Screw compressors can overcome high lift when speed is reduced, allowing energy savings without the possibility of surge as the compressor unloads.
The major drawback of screw chillers is their high first cost. For small cooling loads,reciprocating chillers are less expensive to purchase and install; for large loads, centrifugal chillers cost less.

Centrifugal Chillers

Centrifugal compressor is a dynamic machine that uses the rotating action of an impeller wheel to exert centrifugal force on refrigerant inside a round chamber (volute). Refrigerant is sucked into the impeller wheel through a large circular intake and flows between the impellers. The impellers force the refrigerant outward, exerting centrifugal force on the refrigerant. The refrigerant is pressurized as it is forced against the sides of the volute. Centrifugal compressors are well suited to compressing large volumes of refrigerant to relatively low pressures. The compressive force generated by an impeller wheel is small, so chillers that use centrifugal compressors usually employ more than one impeller wheel, arranged in series. Centrifugal compressors are desirable for their simple design and few moving parts

Centrifugal chillers are categorized either as positive pressure or negative pressure machines depending on the evaporator pressure condition and the type of refrigerant used. A chiller using refrigerant R-22 and R-134A is a positive-pressure machine, while the one using R-123 is a negative-pressure machine. Key facts are noted

• Mass flow rates for both refrigerants are essentially the same at
approximately 3 lb/min ton. However, due to the significantly higher density of
R-134A, its volumetric flow rate (cfm/ton) is over five times smaller than R123 volumetric flow rate. Compressors using R-123 typically use large
diameter impellers (approximately 40 inches diameter).

• Compressors using R-134A typically use much smaller impellers (about 5
inch diameter). The large wheel diameters required by R-123 puts a design
constraint on the compressor and, to reduce the diameter, they typically
utilize two or three impellers in series or stages to produce an equivalent
pressure increase

• Compressors using R-123 use direct-coupled motors that on 60 Hz electric
supply turn at 3600 rpm. Compressors using R-134A typically use motor
coupled through a gearbox or speed increaser and can operate at speeds
approaching 30,000 rpm.

• Since the compressor using R-123, operate in vacuum, it leads to possible
contamination from atmosphere, water vapor, air-oxygen. This induces high
chances of corrosion and wasteful energy consumption (kW per ton penalty)
due to compression of non condensable gases. Continuous purge is required
and it takes longer shutdowns for maintenance.

Like reciprocating chillers, centrifugal units are available in both hermetically sealed and open construction. Despite its lower operating efficiency, the hermetically sealed unit is more widely used.

Favorable Factors

The main factor favoring centrifugal machine is their high operational efficiency at full load. Unlike reciprocating and rotary screw, centrifugal compressor is not a constant displacement machine, thus it offers a wide range of capacities continuously modulated over a limited range of pressure ratios. They are well suited to compressing large volumes of refrigerant to relatively
low pressures. By altering built- in design items as number of stages, compressor speed, impeller diameter, and choice of refrigerant, it can be used in chillers having a wide range of design chilled liquid temperatures and design cooling fluid temperatures.

Due to their very high vapor-flow capacity characteristics, centrifugal compressors dominate the 200 ton and larger chiller market, where they are the least costly and most efficient cooling compressor design. Centrifugals are most commonly driven by electric motors, but can also be driven by steam turbines and gas engines.


A serious drawback to centrifugal chillers has been their part load performance. When the building load decreases, the chiller responds by partially closing its inlet vanes to restrict refrigerant flow. While this control method is effective down to about 20 percent of the chiller’s rated output, it results in decreased operating efficiency.

For example, a chiller rated at 0.60 kW per ton at full load might require as much as

0.90 kW per ton when lightly loaded. Since chillers typically operate at or near full load less than 10 percent of the time, part load operating characteristics significantly impact annual energy requirements.

Centrifugal chillers also can be difficult to operate at low cooling loads. When the cooling load falls below 25 percent of the chiller’s rated output, the chiller is prone to a condition known as surging. Unrestricted, surging can lead to serious chiller damage. To reduce the chances of damage from surging, manufacturers add special controls, but most of these controls further reduce the part load efficiency of the units

Scroll Chillers

The scroll compressor is a positive displacement machine where refrigerant is compressed by two offset spiral disks that are nested together. The upper disk is stationary while the lower disk moves in orbital fashion.

The orbiting action of the lower disk inside the stationary disk creates sealed spaces of varying volume. Refrigerant is sucked in through inlet ports at the perimeter of the scroll. A quantity of refrigerant becomes trapped in one of the sealed spaces. As the disk orbits the enclosed space containing the refrigerant is transferred toward the centre of the disk and its volume decreases. As the volume decreases, the refrigerant is compressed. The compressed refrigerant is discharged through a port at the centre of the upper disk.

Scroll compressors are a relatively recent development that is rapidly overtaking the niche of reciprocating chillers in comfort cooling. They provide small size, low noise and vibration and good efficiency. Available in air-cooled and water cooled configurations, scroll chiller capacity can reach approximately 30 tons or less, which makes them good candidates for spot cooling or make-up cooling applications.

The biggest drawback is that these cannot be repaired and there have been issues of scroll compressors losing oil at low temperatures. On relatively small sizes, these do not affect the life cycle economics drastically and therefore not discussed further in this course.

Compressor Capacities

The size of refrigeration compressors is given in either motor input horse power (HP), motor input kilowatts (kW input), refrigeration cooling capacity (kW cooling), British Thermal Units per hour (Btu/h) or tons of refrigeration (TR). A refrigeration ton is equal to heat extraction rate of 12,000 BTU’s/hr; therefore a 3 TR chiller can remove 36,000 BTU’s/hr.

The volume and pressure that the refrigerant can be pumped at determines the
cooling capacity, specific performance and application areas where the compressor
can be used for. Note the key facts:

Scroll to top