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Flexure Design for Progressive Clearance Labyrinth Seal

[+] Author Affiliations
Hrishikesh Deo

GE Global Research, Niskayuna, NY

Xiaoqing Zheng

GE Power Systems, Schenectady, NY

Paper No. DETC2012-71536, pp. 403-410; 8 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 36th Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, Parts A and B
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4503-5
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


Turbo-machinery sealing is a challenging problem due to the varying clearances caused by thermal transients, vibrations or bearing lift–off. Conventional labyrinth seals have to be assembled with large clearances to avoid rubbing during rotor transients and this results in large leakage and lower efficiency. In our previous work, we have proposed a Progressive Clearance Labyrinth Seal which is mounted on flexures and employs progressively tighter teeth from the upstream to the downstream direction. The clearance progression gives rise to a feedback phenomenon whereby a small tip-clearance is maintained between the seal and the rotor. The flexures play a very important role in the design of this seal. They are required to have low radial stiffness relative to the fluidic feedback stiffness, so that the seal can move freely in response to the self-correcting forces. The axial stiffness has to be high to limit the displacement in that direction. Most importantly, the flexures need to provide extremely high twist stiffness, since a small twist can cause large changes in the clearance progression necessary for the self–correcting behavior. In this paper, we propose a novel zero–twist flexure architecture which preserves radial compliance and twist stiffness. We first create a simple analytical model to illustrate the design concept. An experimental setup is built and the design is validated on representative flexure geometry.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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