Abstract

In the subsea oil and gas industry, multiphase pumps and wet gas compressors are engineered choices saving transportation and separation facility costs. In these machines, seals handling multiple phase components must be able to operate without affecting the system efficiency and its dynamic stability. This paper, extending prior work conducted with uniform clearance and wavy surface annular seals, presents measurements of leakage and dynamic force coefficients in a grooved seal whose dimensions are scaled from an impeller wear ring seal in a boiler feed pump. The 14-grooves seal has diameter D =127 mm, length L = 0.34 D, and clearance c =0.211 mm; each groove has shallow depth dg ∼2.6 c and length Lg ∼ 3.4% L. At a shaft speed of 3.5 krpm (surface speed = 23.3 m/s), a mixture of air in ISO VG 10 oil with inlet gas volume fraction (GVF) ranging from 0 (just oil) to 0.7 (mostly air) lubricates the seal. The pressure ratio (inlet/exit) is 2.9. The flow is laminar since the liquid is viscous and the pressure drop is low. The measured mixture mass flow decreases continuously with an increase in inlet GVF. The seal stiffnesses (direct K and cross coupled k), added mass (M), and direct damping (C) coefficients are constant when the supplied mixture is low in gas content, GVF ≤ 0.1. As the gas content increases, 0.2 ≤  GVF ≤ 0.5, the seal direct dynamic stiffness becomes nil with an increase in excitation frequency, whereas k and C reduce steadily with GVF. In general, for GVF ≤ 0.5, the direct damping is invariant with frequency; variations appearing for GVF = 0.7. Compared against a three wave annular seal, the grooved seal offers much lower force coefficients, in particular the viscous damping. Thus, for laminar flow operation (heavy oil) with a low pressure drop as in a wear ring seal, a three wave seal is recommended as it also offers a significant centering stiffness.

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