Department Publications


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Contact Information

Eugene "Buddy" Broerman, III
Senior Research Engineer
Fluid Machinery Systems
(210) 522-2555

The Analog – 1956: First computer system to be applied to the design of natural-gas pipeline systems – ASME Landmark #145

Reciprocating Compuressor

An integral reciprocating compressor from the 1950s

During and immediately following World War II, the oil refining, petrochemical, and natural gas transportation industries in the United States grew extensively. This expansion led to the installation of numerous gas processing plants and, in particular, gas transmission compression facilities and pipelines. Machinery and piping for these facilities were sometimes hastily designed and installed. Because this equipment consisted primarily of reciprocating compressors and pumps, severe vibration problems often occurred. These vibration problems and the resulting potential piping failures presented grave safety concerns because of the flammable fluids flowing through the pipelines under high pressure.

Compression Systems Evaluations

The PCRC subsequently commissioned Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) to develop a tool that could evaluate these compression systems at the design stage so that corrective measures could be developed prior to installation and operation. The first analysis was performed in November 1954 for a gas transmission station in Refugio, Texas. Since then, more than 12,000 analyses have been performed for compressor stations, gas processing plants, refineries, and petrochemical complexes throughout the world. Although originally seen as a design tool to optimize new installations, this capability is also used to evaluate existing systems to develop corrective measures or to analyze new operating conditions.

Contact us for more information about our compressor piping system design capabilities, or how you can contract with SwRI. We can offer you the best approach for solving your compressor system or pump system analysis problem.

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Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 10 technical divisions.