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Mechanical seal design

Mechanical Seals Operating


Principles
Essential elements of a mechanical seal
These are the three essential elements of a mechanical seal:

Seal faces: one rotating with the shaft and one stationary in the pump casing, cover or
flange.

Secondary seals: one to seal the rotating face to the shaft and one to seal the stationary
face to the pump cover or flange.

Metal parts: to transmit torque and to provide an axial mechanical force to load the faces.

Essential requirements for proper operation of a mechanical


seal
These are the essential requirements:

Seal faces must be flat and polished.

Seal faces must be installed perpendicular to the shaft.

Spring force must be sufficient to maintain contact of the faces.


The fluid in the pump and seal area
Key Point: the fluid contacts the seal faces and other parts in wide open areas, in very
small gaps and at the exit of the seal faces. Pressure and temperature of the fluid will
depend on its location and determine its respective state, i.e. liquid, gaseous, solid or a
mixture.

A few facts about the leakage (and wear) behavior of


contacting mechanical seals:

 It is essential for proper lubrication and wear of the faces.

 Normal leak rates range between immeasurably small to steady drips or temporary
to even small steams. Some seals leak some of the time, some seals never leak
(measurably), and some leak all the time. Leakage patterns can be constant,
progressive or erratic in nature.

 It can be in liquid, gaseous and/or solid state.

 Successful contacting seals tend to have very low wear rates and low leakage rates.

 Some forms of contact is necessary for low leakage rates. Non-contacting or “full lift
off” seals (hydrostatic or hydrodynamic tend to have visible, sizeably larger leakage
rates.
 The large majority of mechanical seals never wear out and are removed from service
for some other reason.

 Seal failures occur for a wide range of reasons. Some failures occur as an
interaction with the tribology of the interface.

Effective forces in a Mechanical Seal


These are the forces operating in mechanical seals:

Axial and radial forces

Closing and opening forces

Hydrostatic and hydrodynamic forces

Leakage of a liquid lubricated mechanical seal

Key point: leakage rate Q strongly depends on the gap height h

 The gap height is determinate by several factors: materials, manufacturing quality,


lubrication regime, face distortions.

 The leak rate of a contacting seal is also influenced by other pump related factors
such as run outs and vibration levels.

Power Consumption of a liquid lubricated mechanical seal


Important Points:

Face friction, churning and soak in heat.

Flush to dissipate the heat in order to control the gap temperature.

Coefficient of friction can swing considerably during operational transients.

The key is to maintain the gap profile as parallel as possible, i.e.minimize distortions.

Lubrication regimes of liquid lubricated mechanical seals


Seal Balance
To reduce the axial face contact force which allows to seal high pressures, i.e. up to 3000
psig with one set of faces.

It is the ratio (k) of 2 geometric areas: the closing (Ah) and opening area (Ac)

For unbalanced seals k = 1

For balanced seals k = 1