Waukesha’s Active Magnetic Bearings Key Part of Innovative Turboexpander-Compressor for Oilfield Plant

Active magnetic bearings from Waukesha Magnetic Bearings and new controller technology for them play a key role in an innovative line of turboexpander-compressors that has been developed by L.A. Turbine and recently went into operation at an oilfield facility in North Dakota. 

LAT is a design and manufacturing company based in Valencia, CA which creates application-specific, highly engineered turboexpanders that are used in hydrocarbon processing, geothermal power generation, and other power-recovery or refrigeration applications in industrial processes worldwide. It recently commissioned its first ARES active magnetic bearing (AMB) turboexpander-compressor within a newly established natural gas liquid processing plant in the Bakken Shale Play of North Dakota. In addition to magnetic bearings, it features the industry’s first skid-mounted active magnetic bearing controller and PLC design. 

“This is a milestone moment for L.A. Turbine and for the industry,” said Danny Mascari, president. “In 2016, our founder, John Maskaluk, challenged his engineering team to develop the next generation of turboexpanders using AMB technology.”

The turboexpander is the result of a partnership between L.A. Turbine and Waukesha Magnetic Bearings. Until now, AMB controllers had to be installed in a building away from the skid installation site. With the new controller technology, engineering, procurement and construction companies have greater flexibility with the plant site location and layout, capital costs are significantly less, and the machine can be delivered in a shorter timeframe. 

“We are proud to be partnering with L.A. Turbine on this technological advance for turboexpanders,” commented Brian Draeger, director of sales for Waukesha Bearings. “The commissioning of this first unit is the realization of much hard work and a commitment to delivering innovation to the gas processing industry.” 

End-users realize immediate operational benefits due to ease of machine installation and commissioning. Plus, less time and labor are required for start-up and ongoing maintenance. If an operational issue occurs, troubleshooting can begin immediately via the remote access capability of the system’s Zephyr controller. 

For more than three decades, Waukesha Magnetic Bearings has applied magnetic bearing technology to advance the performance of rotating equipment and specializes in custom-engineered active magnetic bearing systems for large turbomachinery and high-performing rotating equipment. Their robust AMB systems have achieved 99.9% availability without special redundancy provisions, making them well suited for mission-critical applications, says the company. “We leverage the intelligence of magnetic bearing systems and the remote connectivity capabilities of our third-generation controllers to allow for machine commissioning, diagnostics and adjustment on-demand from a remote location,” said Draeger. 

Its sealed magnetic bearings can be immersed in mildly corrosive process fluid environments, while its canned magnetic bearings are designed for immersion in the most extreme corrosive and abrasive environments. Magnetic bearing hardware typically includes active magnetic axial and radial bearings, auxiliary bearings and position sensors. 

Located in Waukesha, WI, Waukesha Bearings is part of Dover Corporation’s Pumps & Process Solutions segment.

See www.waukbearing.com