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Low-Cost Retrofit Kit for Integral Reciprocating Compressors to Reduce Emissions and Enhance Efficiency
Project Number
Last Reviewed Dated

The objective is to develop and validate a novel, low-cost (<$75-100/BHP, depending on the IRC’s size), field-installable (installation time <3 hours), remotely-controlled, retrofit kit with integrated sensors for Integral Reciprocating Compressors (IRCs) used in the production, gathering, transmission, and processing sections of the natural gas industry. The proposed technology aims to reduce emissions and improve operating efficiencies, combustion stability, and operational envelope of IRCs, while saving cost. The development of the proposed retrofit kit will utilize various computational, data analytics, and machine learning models to correlate sensor and emissions data at all operational points with the performance parameters of the compressor. Validation and optimization will be performed via comprehensive lab and field tests.


University of Oklahoma – Norman, OK 73019

Industry Partners: 
WAGO Automation, Germantown, WI 53022 
Mid Continent Rental Company-Tulsa, OK 74121


The simplicity, fuel flexibility, and lower operational cost of large Integral Reciprocating Compressors (IRCs) have rendered them as ideal candidates for various applications, including gas gathering, gas transmission, and gas processing. However, the operation of IRCs over a variety of applications and power ranges is limited due to the challenge of meeting regulatory emission standards. Exploration and production companies or compressor rental fleet providers typically purchase high horsepower IRCs for the early stage of well production. As production declines or gas prices fluctuate, companies need to operate the compression system under varying operating conditions, in order to accommodate load and speed. However, the majority of IRCs are designed to work optimally only at their rated load and speed due to their simple two-stroke working principle. In partial load scenarios (e.g. 0-80% rated power), the unburned hydrocarbon emissions including methane increase dramatically. The development of this technology will provide improved, low-cost retrofit kits for reducing emissions and improving the performance of IRCs.


This project demonstrates the application of smart devices that can be integrated with old and new assets to provide a low-cost, field-installable retrofit alternative that will reduce emissions and enhance the performance of reciprocating compressors. The proposed approach is expected to be desirable for a variety of large industrial integral compressors used in the natural gas industry and provide improved efficiency. The system will allow continuous operation to prevent production losses due to down time of the compressor and will provide a significant reduction in the operation and maintenance costs mainly by eliminating the need for expensive catalysts with a relatively short lifetime. 

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)
  • Defined PLC architecture together with the research partner WAGO Automation.
  • Successfully recorded multiple cycles of engine and compressor pressure data.
  • Successfully recorded emission results using ECM and Testo emission analyzers.
  • Developed and validated a mathematical model for NOx and O2 sensors.
  • Designed and fabricated a setup to test and calibrate NOx and O2 sensors.
  • Designed and manufactured an air management unit to control the amount of air in the combustion chamber.
  • Designed and fabricated a system to capture engine top dead center, which is required to plot engine and compressor pressure with timing band of the engine.
  • Worked with configuring MKS system for detailed emission measurement.
  • Achieved up to 70% methane and VOCs emissions reduction at different load and speeds
  • Submitted two conference papers.
  • Both papers are accepted for publication.
  • Organized Several training sessions for graduate and undergraduate students working on the project.
  • Shared and discussed the project progress and results with different companies.
Current Status

The air management system (AMS) has been tested under different operating conditions in the OU’s natural gas lab. The results show that the AMS can significantly reduce engine emissions at different loads and speeds. The system will be deployed to the field in the coming months to be tested under actual operating conditions.

Project Start
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DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution


Contact Information

NETL – Joseph Renk ( or 412-386-6406)
University of Oklahoma – Dr. Pejman Kazempoor ( or 405-325-7885