Brush seals require custom design and tailoring due to their behavior driven by flow dynamic, which has many interacting design parameters, as well as their location in challenging regions of turbomachinery. Therefore, brush seal technology has not reached a conventional level across the board standard. However, brush seal geometry generally has a somewhat consistent form. Since this consistent form does exist, knowledge of the leakage performance of brush seals depending on specific geometric dimensions and operating conditions is critical and predictable information in the design phase. However, even though there are common facts for some geometric dimensions available to designers, open literature has inadequate quantified information about the effect of brush seal geometric dimensions on leakage.

This paper presents a detailed CFD investigation quantifying the leakage values for some geometric variables of common brush seal forms functioning in some operating conditions. Analyzed parameters are grouped as follows; axial dimensions, radial dimensions and operating conditions.

The axial dimensions and their ranges are front plate thickness (z1=0.040–0.150in.), distance between front plate and bristle pack (z2=0.010–0.050in.), bristle pack thickness (z3=0.020–0.100in.), and backing plate thickness (z4=0.040–0.150in.).

The radial dimensions are backing plate fence height (r1=0.020–0.100in.), front plate fence height (r2=0.060–0.400in.), and bristle free height (r3=0.300–0.500in.).

The operating conditions are chosen as clearance (r0=0.000–0.020in.), pressure ratio (Rp=1.5–3.5), and rotor speed (n=0–40krpm).

CFD analysis was carried out by employing compressible turbulent flow in 2-D axi-symmetric coordinate system. The bristle pack was treated as a porous medium for which flow resistance coefficients were calibrated by using literature based test data.

Selected dimensional and operational parameters for a common brush seal form were investigated, and their effects on leakage performance were quantified. CFD results show that, in terms of leakage, the dominant geometric dimensions were found to be the bristle pack thickness and the backing plate fence height. It is also clear that physical clearance dominates leakage performance, when compared to the effects of other geometric dimensions. The effects of other parameters on brush seal leakage were also analyzed in a comparative manner.

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