Leakage, Drag Power, and Rotordynamic Force Coefficients of an Air in Oil (Wet) Annular Seal Academic Article uri icon


  • Copyright © 2018 by ASME. Wet gas compression systems and multiphase pumps are enabling technologies for the deep sea oil and gas industry. This extreme environment determines both machine types have to handle mixtures with a gas in liquid volume fraction (GVF) varying over a wide range (0-1). The gas (or liquid) content affects the system pumping (or compression) efficiency and reliability, and places a penalty in leakage and rotordynamic performance in secondary flow components, namely seals. In 2015, tests were conducted with a short length smooth surface annular seal (L/D = 0.36, radial clearance = 0.127 mm) operating with an oil in air mixture whose liquid volume fraction (LVF) varied to 4%. The test results with a stationary journal show the dramatic effect of a few droplets of liquid on the production of large damping coefficients. This paper presents further measurements and predictions of leakage, drag power, and rotordynamic force coefficients conducted with the same test seal and a rotating journal. The seal is supplied with a mixture (air in ISO VG 10 oil), varying from a pure liquid to an inlet GVF = 0.9 (mostly gas), a typical range in multiphase pumps. For operation with a supply pressure (Ps) up to 3.5 bar(a), discharge pressure (Pa) = 1 bar(a), and various shaft speed to 3.5 krpm (R = 23.3 m/s), the flow is laminar with either a pure oil or a mixture. As the inlet GVF increases to 0.9 the mass flow rate and drag power decrease monotonically by 25% and 85% when compared to the pure liquid case, respectively. For operation with Ps = 2.5 bar(a) and to 3.5 krpm, dynamic load tests with frequency 0 < ‰ < 110 Hz are conducted to procure rotordynamic force coefficients. A direct stiffness (K), an added mass (M), and a viscous damping coefficient (C) represent well the seal lubricated with a pure oil. For tests with a mixture (GVFmax = 0.9), the seal dynamic complex stiffness Re(H) increases with whirl frequency that is, Re(H) differs from (K 2M). Both the seal cross coupled stiffnesses (KXY and 'KYX) and direct damping coefficients (CXX and CYY) decrease by approximately 75% as the inlet GVF increases to 0.9. The finding reveals that the frequency at which the effective damping coefficient (CXXeff = CXX ' KXY) changes from negative to positive (i.e., a crossover frequency) drops from 50% of the rotor speed (1/2) for a seal with pure oil to a lesser magnitude for operation with a mixture. Predictions for leakage and drag power based on a homogeneous bulk flow model match well the test data for operation with inlet GVF up to 0.9. Predicted force coefficients correlate well with the test data for mixtures with GVF up to 0.6. For a mixture with a larger GVF, the model under predicts the direct damping coefficients by as much as 40%. The tests also reveal the appearance of a self-excited seal motion with a low frequency; its amplitude and broad band frequency (centered at around 1/412 Hz) persist and increase as the gas content in the mixture increase. The test results show that an accurate quantification of wet seals dynamic force response is necessary for the design of robust subsea flow assurance systems.

author list (cited authors)

  • San Andrés, L., & Lu, X.

citation count

  • 10

publication date

  • September 2017