In connection with the Coal Gasification Program of the U.S. Department of Energy, a need was identified for a high-pressure, high-volume oxygen compressor. At the time, the highest steady operating pressure available from commercial-sized turbocompressors was about 65 bar (950 psia), which was being used in the partial oxidation process for ammonia or methanol synthesis. For advanced coal conversion plants, compressors operating at 115 bar (1667 psia) would be needed.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) entered into an agreement with the West German firm of Mannesmann Demag, AG, to develop a high-pressure oxygen compressor. Mannesmann Demag designed and fabricated a third casing centrifugal compressor (to be used in a train with available compressors) having a nominal inlet pressure of 65 bar (950 psia) and a nominal discharge pressure of 115 bar (1667 psia). In exchange, the U.S. DOE agreed to fund the modification and operation of a NASA-owned test facility for testing the compressor. The facility, CTL-V, was modified and operated by the Rocketdyne Division of Rockwell International. Test management and reporting was carried out by DOE’s Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC), operated by Rockwell International’s Energy Systems Group.

This paper presents a brief description of the compressor test article and test facility. The test program, test results, and analysis are presented in greater detail. The scope of the test program included low- and high-pressure nitrogen shakedown tests, oxygen performance and steady-state tests, and oxygen maximum suction pressure tests.

The facility is unique because it is the only one of its kind nationally that can provide the power to drive the compressor and that has liquid oxygen/liquid nitrogen capability (the facility is utilized for development and testing of rocket engine turbopumps). Also, testing and data acquisition, reduction, and analysis were performed in a facility that normally runs tests of few minutes duration (for rocket engine components) but that had to be converted to run endurance tests lasting several hundred hours.

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