Reciprocating compressors are used in many applications because they can compress air or gas in a wide range of pressure ratios and ﬂowrates. They can offer excellent operational flexibilities for different services.
However, beside many advantages, there are some disadvantages and areas of concern. For example, pulsation is a major challenge for nearly any reciprocating compressor. It can impose many issues, including severe vibration, piping failures (due to fatigue), reduction in compressor efficiency, and errors in ﬂow measurements. Also, the cylinder valves and unloaders can be sources of operational problems and reliability issues.
This article reviews several key areas of reciprocating compressor reliability, operation, and performance, including cylinder valve operation, lubrication, and pulsation.