Labyrinth seals are used in many key sealing locations in gas turbines to control various leakage flows, e.g., to control the secondary air-flow from the compressor (bypassing the combustor), the turbine inter-stage leakages and blade tip leakages. This study was performed to assess the improvement in the performance of a labyrinth seal by using an air-curtain (cross-flow jet(s)) from the stator. Detailed parametric studies were performed to study the effect of the air-curtain jet pressure, location, and the number of jets on the seal performance with respect to the leakage flow. The analysis was done using 2-dimensional axisymmetric CFD simulations.
It was found that in the case of a labyrinth seal with a flat stator (without a honeycomb attached to the stator) the air-curtain design can reduce the seal leakage by about 30% over the baseline seal design without air-curtains. This reduction happened because the air-curtain jet deflected the main seal jet away from the seal clearance. A similar conclusion was also obtained in case of a labyrinth seal with a honeycombed stator. Furthermore, our parametric studies with different air-curtain designs parameters implemented over a honeycombed labyrinth seal showed that the air-curtain jet pressure, location, and the number of jets were crucial factors governing the seal leakage. Amongst the air-curtain designs studied, it was found that implementing three air-curtains in the 1st pocket gave the maximum leakage reduction (by about 50%) over the baseline design.