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Computational Analysis of Abradable Seal: Part 1

[+] Author Affiliations
Rajeev Kumar Pandit

GE Oil & Gas, Bangalore, KA, India

Luca Innocenti

GE Oil & Gas, Firenze, Italy

Paper No. GT2013-94085, pp. V03AT15A001; 12 pages
  • ASME Turbo Expo 2013: Turbine Technical Conference and Exposition
  • Volume 3A: Heat Transfer
  • San Antonio, Texas, USA, June 3–7, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: International Gas Turbine Institute
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5514-0
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


The usage of abradable seals in the secondary flow path of centrifugal compressors is very high whenever higher efficiency is the main requirement. This is due to the fact that when compared with other sealing technologies the rubbing of teeth into the abradable material allows for the formation of grooves that result in very tight clearances between static and rotating components.

Flow physics and mass flow leakage through abradable seals are strongly dependent on the presence of these grooves and their respective shapes. For cases where no grooves are formed, the seal leakage is mainly a function of inlet pressure, pressure ratio across the seal and tooth radial clearance. Once grooves are formed, the flow physics and seal leakage are also a function of groove dimensions and tooth axial position inside the groove.

The scope of this paper is to present results obtained from an extended numerical campaign that was performed to understand the effect of groove formation and teeth position on seal leakages. Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD) was used to study these effects. To achieve higher accuracy of numerical results, all key parameters in CFD such as mesh topology, grid independence, y+ criterion and turbulence model were studied in great detail.

In cases where no grooves are present, the vena contracta (the narrowest point of the carry-over jet) is observed across the first tooth and its effect on flow physics at higher tooth gap is highlighted in this paper. For cases where grooves are present, it is seen that the flow field strongly depends on the following parameters:

1. Groove dimensions (e.g. depth and width),

2. Tooth radial clearance and

3. Tooth axial position inside groove.

The impact of all the above parameters on seal leakage have been discussed and described in this paper. Finally, seal leakages are compared for grooved geometry with respective non-grooved geometry cases (in terms of tooth radial clearance).

In the second part of the paper, the accuracy of CFD results is verified with available experimental data. For judicious comparison, geometrical specifications of all components and boundary conditions in CFD model and experimental setup were maintained very closely.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME



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