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Piston Rings for Reciprocating Compressor

Piston Rings for Reciprocating Compressor Manufacturers

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Pistons in reciprocating compressors work against pressure and require a sliding seal to compress the gas without leaking beyond the piston. For optimal cylinder capacity and efficiency, the piston rings offer this sealing. Only the dynamic pressure component fluctuating between suction and discharge pressure affects the piston sealing parts. The gas pressure pushing the piston ring outward against the cylinder wall and side of the ring causes sealing.

The number of piston rings required for a given application is determined by the molecular weight of the gas, the pressure differential, whether the cylinder is lubricated or not, the compressor's speed, and the amount of space available on the piston. The number of piston rings suggested by different manufacturers and compressor builders varies significantly.

Types of Piston Rings for Reciprocating Compressor:

There are two types of piston rings: one-piece and segmental.

  • An "open type" angle or butt cut is the most frequent ring junction. Angle cuts have a small benefit in that there is less gap clearance (0.7 butt cut). This ring has a tendency to rotate or spin at high speeds, such as 720 RPM or more. This will cause piston groove wear, especially if the piston is made of aluminum, hence a Butt joint ring should be utilised. An expander may be required to give extra loading of the ring against the cylinder at atmospheric or below 10 psi or vacuum suction.
  • For a performance issue where little leakage is desired, a step cut joint is employed. When the ring material is not flexible or particularly rigid, segmental two sections or more is employed. If piston rings leak slightly and thereby disperse the pressure drop over more than one ring, wear is reduced. A decent rule of thumb is to replace piston rings when they have worn down to 30% to 50% of their original radial thickness.

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