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Centrifugal Compressors

Published on Apr 02, 2024


A centrifugal compressor, also called a "radial blower", "squirrel cage", or "squirrel wheel compressor", consists of an axle to which is mounted a cylindrical assembly of compressor blades. The compressor operates by using the centrifugal force applied to an air mass to achieve compression.


The Centrifugal compressors are used throughout industry because they have few moving parts, are very energy efficient, and give higher airflow than a similarly sized reciprocating compressor. Their primary drawback is that they cannot achieve the high compression ratio of reciprocating compressors without multiple stages. Centrifugal compressors are more suited to continuous-duty applications such as ventilation fans, air movers, cooling units, and other uses that require high volume but fairly low pressures. While technically centrifugal blowers can operate in reverse, due to blade design and other factors their efficiency is greatly reduced. When centrifugal blowers are used in pipelines they are sometimes called jets.

Centrifugal compressors are often used in some small gas turbine engines, mainly because, at small size, all-axial units are less efficient than the equivalent CF compressor. Also because the rear axial stages become too small to be robust. Although some centrifugal compressors are capable of over 10:1 pressure ratio at a reasonable efficiency, temperature and stress considerations severely limit the pressure ratio that a CF unit can develop within the compression system of modern, high overall pressure ratio, gas turbine. Turbo shaft engines often use an axial-CF or double centrifugal compressor unit to achieve a high overall pressure ratio.

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