Brush seals play an increasing role in turbomachinery due to their improved behavior towards leakage and their capability to compensate for gap variations caused by thermal expansion and rotor excursions. The flexible bristles of brush seals are able to endure short-term reductions in gap width without severe damage. Consequently the necessary gap between the rotor and brush seal can virtually be reduced to zero, leading to a considerable reduction in air leakage of up to 80 percent. However the reduced gap height increases the probability of rubbing between the bristle package and the rotor surface. The friction forces generated can cause an unwanted heat load on the rotor, bristles and leakage air. In addition, the surfaces involved are exposed to abrasion effects. Especially in the thin and lightweight rotor structures of aircraft engines, the additional heat impact can lead to a problematic level of material stress. To study these effects and to give reliable quantitative design rules, a versatile test rig for brush seals was designed and built. The simulation of seal behavior under relevant engine conditions is the main emphasis of this rig, including high pressure drop, leakage flow and high surface speed. The key feature is the possibility to vary the axis symmetric radial gap width during the test rig operation by up to a 0.5 mm overlap. The so caused rubbing induces a transient rotor temperature rise which is measured via a set of 12 thermocouples embedded in the rotor. These temperature readings can be used to calculate the brush seal heat impact on the rotor structure. Preliminary results with moderate differential pressure and rotor speed proved the functionality of the test rig and confirmed the global approach of the project.

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