A gas windback seals is similar to a labyrinth seal except the cavity is one continuous channel which winds around the shaft like a screw thread. One application is in gas compressors to isolate lubrication oil from the gas flow paths. A CFD based study of clearance, pressure ratio, and shaft speed has been performed. One seal geometry was experimentally studied to provide verification of the CFD accuracy. An empirical model for the leakage rate has been developed which fits the data with a standard deviation of 0.8%. The effects of pressure ratio and shaft speed upon the leakage rate are independent of each other. Analysis of the CFD results indicate that the kinetic energy carry over coefficient is substantially less for the windback seal operating at low differential pressures and gas densities than for a labyrinth seal operating under typical conditions.

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