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Rotating machinery handbook reviewed by consultant Almasi

By Chemical Engineering |

Forsthoffer’s Best Practice Handbook for Rotating Machinery. By William Forsthoffer. Elsevier Inc., 30 Corporate Drive, 4th floor, Burlington, MA 01803. Web: elsevier.com. 2011. 672 pages. $295.00.

Reviewed by Amin Almasi, Rotating machinery consultant, Brisbane, Australia


Rotating machines require expertise and precision that is often lacking among those responsible for operating and maintaining them. This situation underscores the need for practical guidance on pumps, compressors, turbines and other rotating machinery. Forsthoffer’s book deserves a place among the best rotating-machine resources, and should be considered a valuable reference whether or not you are familiar with the earlier five-book series also written by Forsthoffer.

Taking an unconventional approach, the new book focuses its practical discussions around established best practices. For each topic, a best practice is presented, and then supporting materials and details are discussed. Chapter 1 reviews best practices related to the overall project, such as specification, bid evaluation, ordering, design auditing and testing. Chapter 2 focuses on pumps, covering important issues, such as NPSH, pump selection, pump control and minimum-flow bypass. Compressors are discussed in Chapter 3, which includes practices, supporting materials and data for centrifugal, reciprocating and screw compressors. Several useful and interesting topics are presented — particularly non-lubricating reciprocating compressors (which are rapidly replacing lubricated compressors in CPI plants), reciprocating compressor pulsations, gas-density changes in dynamic compressors, and integrally geared centrifugal compressors.

Chapter 4 explores best practices for gear units and couplings and discusses critical issues, such as replacing old-fashioned gear couplings with modern, flexible ones. Chapters 5 and 6 cover steam and gas turbines, respectively. Important factors in equipment selection are discussed, such as considering highly efficient aero-derivative gas turbines. Among the most useful sections are Chapters 7–9, which cover oil systems, pump mechanical seals and dry gas seals. Important issues, such as cartridge seals, pressurized dual seals, abradable-type separation seals, and seal-gas conditioning units, are discussed. Chapter 10 deals with installation, commissioning and startup of rotating machinery, and discusses practical topics, such as machinery foundation preparation, grouting, oil flushing and initial startup. The book’s two final chapters are dedicated to preventive- and predictive-maintenance best practices, as well as implementation and communication best practices.

While this book skillfully covers much ground, several new technologies, such as modern electric motors, integrally geared machines, magnetic bearings, direct-driven hermetically sealed compressors and large, variable-speed electric drives (which are steadily replacing steam turbines and gas turbines as mechanical drivers) deserve more detailed coverage. Some details and practices focus on outdated technologies, such as seal oil, that may not be useful for modern projects.

Nonetheless, the author’s vast expertise (more than >45 years), and the knowledge and experiences reflected in the book’s best practices, supporting materials and technical details for a wide range of rotating machines should be appreciated. Those engaged in basic and detailed design, machine manufacturing, commissioning, operation and maintenance will find this book valuable. It will certainly join my library.

Food Processing Handbook. 2nd ed. Edited by James G. Brennan and Alistair S. Grandison. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030. Web: wiley.com. 2012. 826 pages. $320.00.

Green Chemistry for Environmental Remediation. Edited by Rashmi Sangi and Vandana Singh. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030. Web: wiley.com. 2011. 800 pages. $195.00.

Onshore and Offshore Wind Energy: An Introduction. By Paul A. Lynn. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030. Web: wiley.com. 2011. 240 pages. $80.00.

Chemistry of Modern Papermaking. By Cornel Hagiopol and James W. Johnston. CRC Press. 6000 Broken Sound Parkway, NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487. Web: crcpress.com. 2012. 431 pages. $179.95.

Roald Hoffman on the Philosophy, Art and Science of Chemistry. Edited by Jeffrey Kovac and Michael Weisberg. Oxford University Press Inc., 198 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016. Web: oup.com. 2012. 390 pages. $35.00.

Principles of Tribology. By Wen Shizhu and Huang Ping. Tsingua University Press and John Wiley & Sons Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030. Web: wiley.com. 2012. 536 pages. $140.00.

REACH for the Polymer Industry: A Practical Guide. By the Polymer REACH Project. iSmithers Rapra Publishing, Shawbury, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY4 4NR, U.K. Web: polymer-books.com. 2012. 114 pages. $125.00.

Physical Testing of Plastics. By T.R. Crompton. iSmithers Rapra Publishing, Shawbury, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY4 4NR, U.K. Web: polymer-books.com. 2012. 365 pages. $205.00.

Control Systems Engineer Technical Reference Handbook. By Chuck Cornell. International Society for Automation (ISA), 67 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. Web: isa.org. 2012. 418 pages. $89.00.

Scott Jenkins

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