The analysis of the performance losses of a multistage compressor concerning the air contaminant is not widespread in literature and, the mutual interactions of particle materials, air humidity, and compressor load are not well studied. The airborne micrometric particles that enter the compressor can deposit on the internal surfaces, causing the loss of performance of the machine.

In this paper, several experimental tests have been carried out on a multistage compressor unit. A detailed analysis has been carried out considering soil and soot ingestion, as well as the air relative humidity (ranging from 50 %RH to 80 %RH) and compressor rotating velocity. Several combinations of particle diameter, material, and operating conditions have been considered. The amount of contaminant at the compressor outlet has been measured and the capture efficiency of the whole machine has been determined. Over the exposure time, the capture efficiency ranges from 0.2 to 0.6 according to the powder type and compressor inlet conditions. The capability of the compressor to collect particles changes over time as a function of the condition, even if, several tested cases appear characterized by an almost constant capture efficiency trend.

In addition, the performance degradation has been monitored over time and, with the reference of the particle concentration, the present experimental campaign covers about 500 operating hours of an actual installation. After a detailed evaluation of experimental uncertainty, the performance losses due to particle contamination has been assessed. The losses in the compressor performance have been estimated by means of the pressure ratio of the axial stages. The maximum degradation has been estimated equal to 0.53 % per hour for the compressor pressure ratio. Soot particles appear stickier, especially in the presence of higher humidity and represent the most detrimental operating conditions for the compressor unit.

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