Dry gas lubricated non-contacting mechanical seals (DGS) are acknowledged as the sophisticated shaft end sealing solution which is most commonly found in turbo-compressors. Especially under demanding conditions where high speed is combined with high pressure, DGS becomes the preferred choice over other sealing alternatives. A reliable operation of DGS, due to the non-contact running between its rotating and stationary rings, is secured by the gas film in the region of a few microns in thickness. This paper presents the measurement method of obtaining the thickness of the running gap in two radial positions, namely the inner and outer diameter of the sealing gap, by integrating the proximity sensors in the stationary ring. The experimental investigations concerning film thicknesses, pressure distributions in the gas film and axial vibrations are carried out in an industry DGS up to 50 bar and 10,000 rpm, whereby a good insight into the dynamic behaviour of the sealing gap is provided. The results demonstrate the practicability of obtaining the gas film parameters in a grooved gas seal, bridging the gap between theory and practice. In combination with the experimental work presented in this paper, the numerical model for simulating the seal performance programmed in MATLAB is compared and validated. The comparisons for various operating conditions and groove profiles are discussed with the focus lying on the hydrodynamic effect in the gas film.

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