Research Papers

Development of a Noncontacting Mechanical Seal for High Performance Turbocharger Applications

[+] Author and Article Information
Daniel A. Nelson

Senior R&D Engineer,
Advanced Technology, Seals,
Flowserve Corporation,
Temecula, CA 92590
e-mail: dnelson@flowserve.com

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received July 6, 2018; final manuscript received July 31, 2018; published online October 4, 2018. Editor: Jerzy T. Sawicki.

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power 141(3), 031008 (Oct 04, 2018) (7 pages) Paper No: GTP-18-1457; doi: 10.1115/1.4041244 History: Received July 06, 2018; Revised July 31, 2018

This paper presents the design and development of a noncontacting dry-gas mechanical seal for high performance automotive turbocharger applications. Turbochargers are increasingly being incorporated into high performance automobile engines to improve fuel efficiency, enhance energy recovery, and increase horsepower as compared with similar sized naturally aspirated engines. Minimizing the wear rate of tribological surfaces in the turbomachinery is critical to maximizing the reliability and durability of the turbocharger. A dry-gas seal for turbochargers and related technologies with 2–4 cm shafts has been developed. The seal provides a complete barrier between the bearing oil and compressor flow path and is capable of reverse pressure and high speed. The seal performance was evaluated for speeds between 60,000 and 80,000 rpm, pressure differentials between −0.8 (reverse pressure) to 6 bar, and temperatures between 20 and 200 °C. Structural and thermal response of the seal components to the operating conditions are analyzed using finite element methods and the tribological behavior of the seal rings are analyzed using computational fluid dynamics. The design is experimentally validated in a seal test stand. This novel approach reduces turbocharger blowby and shows no measurable wear when compared with piston ring seals.

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Fig. 1

Schematic of a typical turbocharger with locations of the seals and bearings

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Fig. 2

Photograph of the rotating ring with laser machined microfeatures

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Fig. 3

Schematic of the mechanical seal layout within the turbocharger (a) and a basic piston ring-style labyrinth seal(b)

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Fig. 4

Schematic of the setup for the bellows FEA. The bellows are first compressed to installed working length; then a pressure load is applied to the inside surfaces.

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Fig. 5

Schematic of the seal face analysis setup, with the mechanical loads depicted

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Fig. 6

Balance shift computed with FEA for different core designs. Three diaphragm thicknesses were evaluated.

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Fig. 7

Local safety factor of the bellow assembly without the face under 6 bar of pressure. The minimum safety factor is approximately 2.08. Note the stress concentration near the outer diameter welds results in the lowest safety factor.

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Fig. 8

Temperature profile and deflection (exaggerated 100 times) of seal rings at maximum conditions (6 bar of pressure at 120,000 rpm and 200 °C)

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Fig. 9

Temperature profile and deflection (exaggerated 100 times) of seal rings at reverse pressure conditions (0.2 bar of pressure at 60,000 rpm and 200 °C)

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Fig. 10

Predicted leakage as a function of pressure for 60,000, 90,000, and 120,000 rpm

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Fig. 11

Setup of the high speed seal test stand

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Fig. 12

Comparison of the primary seal ring face condition before testing (left) and after testing (right)

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Fig. 13

Comparison of leakage between the numerical prediction and the seal test results

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Fig. 14

Comparison of leakage between the gas seal and the piston ring (PR) for different operating conditions. Hot designates tests at 200 °C and cold designates tests at ambient temperature (approximately 20 °C).

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Fig. 15

Test face temperature and measured leakage over three periods of the transient vacuum cycle test. The time in which the vacuum is activated is highlighted in gray. Temperature is shown by the dashed line, while leakage is shown by the solid line.



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