Future Surface Fleet 2019: Key Considerations for Compressors

by Peter Satchwell - Reavell Sales Director

It was my pleasure to attend Future Surface Fleet 2019 recently in Portsmouth, which looked at the impact that the newest technologies will be having on the maritime environment over the next 25 years.

With operational environments changing and many naval platforms now reaching the end of their service lives, the industry is looking to either update or design and build new vessels, which can overcome the latest demands of the 21st century.

As a brand, Reavell is already well-established in the naval industry. Our high-pressure compressors are used by navies around the world, all designed and manufactured from our facility in Redditch. 

Now that I’ve had time to mull over the many interesting conversations had at Future Surface Fleet 2019, I wanted to share my three key takeaways and discuss the future of high-pressure compressors for this industry.

#1 Prioritising Performance

From the conversations I had with other attendees at the event, compressor performance continues to be a top priority. In line with constantly evolving customer demands, operators identified a need for solutions that can operate in extreme emergency conditions, allowing for:

  • Running over speed for increased flow rate
  • Running at higher temperatures
  • Using oils other than just high-pressure compressor oils
  • Greater cooling capabilities

To overcome these challenges, we’ve incorporated solutions such as: maximum capacity small end bearings; novel piston shapes and ring packs; plastic piston rings running on hardened steel liners; different cooler configurations and materials; new drain systems and condensate handling processes. All this has been with the aim of ensuring we continue to supply the most efficient and high-performing compressors to the naval sector.

#2 Saving space

In the past, the ‘size’ of a compressor has meant its footprint. With available space in naval installations becoming an increasing concern, many manufacturers responded by building machines ‘upwards’. However, in many cases these units were actually ill-suited to the application. They were often less stable and more complex to operate, with servicing and maintenance more difficult to carry out as a result.

Today, when we refer to ‘size’, it’s clear that we’re talking about volume. But what we’re looking for – now more than ever – is specific volume, or performance density. With customer demands becoming greater and greater, manufacturers need to either re-design or develop its technology to meet these needs.

In the below example, you can see that we have engineered one of our Reavell solutions to deliver the highest standards of performance density possible. We have incorporated new crankcases, drive arrangements and lubrication systems, in order to meet the customer’s requirements for a 77 m3 / hr / m3 high-pressure compressor. This equipment can also withstand the tilt and roll characteristics that we would expect to see in an underwater fleet. Finally, servicing tasks such as valve inspection or high-pressure ring replacement can be just as easily undertaken as in a standard layout, when compared with the ‘taller’ designs from other manufacturers.

So, the customer can rest assured that they have a reliable and trusted compressor, which can meet its high-pressure needs while also being appropriately sized for the space where it’s due to be installed.


#3 Air and other gases

The third and final priority that really became apparent at this year’s Future Surface Fleet event, and backs up our naval sales for the last 12 months, was a rise in enquiries surrounding high-pressure systems that compress gases other than just air. This includes breathable gas mixes such as heliox and nitrox, as well as carbon dioxide and nitrogen compression, amongst others.

This demand for systems that do not just compress air is indicative of a marked shift in the naval industry. Fortunately, Reavell has a long history of compressing other kinds of gases, such as breathing air systems for saturation diving. When coupled with our drive to work collaboratively with vessel designers and builders whenever possible, it means we can deliver a solution that is ideally suited to your operating requirements, as well as providing solutions that compress air and other gases too. 


Lessons Learned

A real range of fascinating discussions were had at Future Surface Fleet 2019, but these were my top three takeaways surrounding the future of high-pressure compressor technology for the naval industry. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event, to see what that will bring!

If you have any questions about the points discussed above, or would like to know more detail, then please visit our defense section of this website.