A Computational Fluid Dynamics Modified Bulk Flow Analysis for Circumferentially Shallow Grooved Liquid Seals Academic Article uri icon


  • copyright © 2018 by asme. In straight-through centrifugal pumps, a grooved seal acts as a balance piston to equilibrate the full pressure rise across the pump. As the groove pattern breaks the development of fluid swirl, this seal type offers lesser leakage and lower cross-coupled stiffnesses than a similar size and clearance annular seal. Bulk-flow models (BFMs) predict expediently the static and dynamic force characteristics of annular seals; however they lack accuracy for grooved seals. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methods give more accurate results, but are not computationally efficient. This paper presents a modified BFM to predict the rotordynamic force coefficients of shallow depth, circumferentially grooved liquid seals with an accuracy comparable to a CFD solution but with a simulation time of bulk-flow analyses. The procedure utilizes the results of CFD to evaluate the bulk flow velocity field and the friction factors for a 73 grooves annular seal (depth/clearance dg/Cr = 0.98 and length/diameter L/D = 0.9) operating under various sets of axial pressure drop and rotor speed. In a groove, the flow divides into a jet through the film land and a strong recirculation zone. The penetration angle (α), specifying the streamline separation in the groove cavity, is a function of the operating conditions; an increase in rotor speed or a lower pressure difference increases α. This angle plays a prominent role to evaluate the stator friction factor and has a marked influence on the seal direct stiffness. In the bulk-flow code, the friction factor model (f = nRem) is modified with the CFD extracted penetration angle (α) to account for the flow separation in the groove cavity. The flow rate predicted by the modified bulk-flow code shows good agreement with the measured result (6% difference). A perturbation of the flow field is performed on the bulk-flow equations to evaluate the reaction forces on the rotor surface. Compared to the rotordynamic force coefficients derived from the CFD results, the modified bulk-flow code predicts rotordynamic force coefficients within 10%, except that the cross-coupled damping coefficient is over-predicted up to 14%. An example test seal with a few grooves (L/D = 0.5, dg/Cr = 2.5) serves to further validate the predictions of the modified BFM. Compared to the original bulk-flow analysis, the current method shows a significant improvement in the predicted rotordynamic force coefficients, the direct stiffness and damping coefficients, in particular.

author list (cited authors)

  • San Andrés, L., Wu, T., Maeda, H., & Tomoki, O.

citation count

  • 14

publication date

  • September 2017