Abstract

Dry gas lubricated non-contacting mechanical seals (DGS), most commonly found in centrifugal compressors, prevent the process gas flow into the atmosphere. Especially when high speed is combined with high pressure, DGS is the preferred choice over other sealing alternatives. Even though the non-contacting seal is proved reliable; the ultra-thin gas film can still lead to a host of potential problems due to possible contact.

In order to investigate the flow field in the sealing gap and to facilitate the numerical prediction of the seal performance, a dedicated test facility is developed to carry out the measurement of key parameters in the gas film. Gas in the sealing film varies according to the seal inlet pressure, and the thickness of gas film depends on this fluctuated pressure. In this paper, the test facility, measurement methods and the first results of static pressure measurements in the sealing gap of the DGS obtained in the described test facility are presented. An industry DGS with three-dimensional grooves on the surface of the rotating ring, where experimental investigations take place, is used. The static pressure in the gas film is measured, up to 20 bar and 8,100 rpm, by several high frequency ultraminiature pressure transducers embedded into the stationary ring. The experimental results are discussed and compared with the numerical model programmed in MATLAB [1], the characteristic and magnitude of which have a good agreement with the numerical simulations. It suggests the feasibility of measuring pressure profiles of the standard industry DGS under pressurized dynamic operating conditions without altering the key components of the seal and thereby affecting the seal performance.

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