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Experimental study on the water lubrication of non-contacting face seals for turbopumps

Zhang, Guoyuan and Zhao, Weigang and Yan, Xiu (2014) Experimental study on the water lubrication of non-contacting face seals for turbopumps. Industrial Lubrication and Tribology, 66 (2). pp. 314-321. ISSN 0036-8792

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A new type of hydrostatic and hydrodynamic non-contacting face seals has been designed to meet the requirements of lower leakage, longer life and more repeatedly start and stop on shaft seals raised by liquid rocket engine turbopumps. And an experimental study on the performance of the face seal in the actual liquid oxygen turbopump was completed where low-viscosity water was selected as the seal fluid for the sake of safety. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Different performances of face seals under preset conditions were obtained by repeatedly running tests, and the main performance parameters encompass leakage, fluid film pressure between the faces, operating power, face temperature, and so on. The results indicate that the designed face seal has a smaller amount of leakage, with a minimum value of 3?ml/s. Furthermore, the designed face seal has been proved to demand lower operating power. Since its operating power changes slightly with different sealed fluid pressures, the new seal can be deployed in the harsh working condition with high pressure or with high speed (greater than 20,000?rpm). However, one proviso is that when liquid is employed as the seal fluid, the groove depth should be relatively deeper (greater than 10?µm). In response to future engineering requirements, study on the controllable spiral-groove face seals to improve the current design is being conducted. The advancement of such non-contacting face seals proffers important insights to the design of turbo-pump shaft seal in a new generation of liquid rocket engine with regard to the requirement of frequent start and stop as well as long life on it.