Experimental Investigation of the Total Temperature Increase and Swirl Development in Rotating Labyrinth Seals


Labyrinth seals are widely used as reliable components in many areas of turbo machines, e.g. the cooling air system in gas turbines. While the discharge behavior is generally well predictable, the uncertainty predicting the exit circumferential velocity (exit-swirl) and the total temperature increase due to internal losses (windage heating) is comparably large. In order to evaluate analytical correlations and for the validation of numerical simulations convergent and divergent stepped labyrinth seals were investigated experimentally. The change in total temperature across the labyrinth seal was measured in a test rig capable to establish different rotational speeds, pressure ratios and various inlet swirls. In an engine, honeycomb abrasive liners on the stator protect the seal fins. To simulate real engine conditions honeycombs were applied in the test setup, too and the influence of these liners on the windage heating was compared to smooth stator configurations. Detailed velocity profiles within the seal chambers were determined using a 2D Laser-Doppler-Velocimeter. Additionally, the ability of axisymmetric numerical k-e simulations to predict the data was evaluated.
The present study provides important data for the design of future turbo machines, because the exact knowledge of the labyrinth seal exit swirl and temperature is expected to further improve the design of downstream components such as the pre-swirl system. Additionally, more accurate boundary conditions for the thermal analysis will be available and the rotor dynamic stability of the seal can be estimated better.