Test facilities capable of simulating relevant operational environments for validating novel concepts are indispensable for advancing the state-of-the-art in turbomachinery sealing technology. A test rig suitable for demonstrating full-scale rotor-stator sealing concepts under operational environments relevant for a variety of turbomachinery gas paths was designed and commissioned at GE’s Seals Test Facility. The test rig, called the Advanced Seals Test Rig (or ASTR), can simulate conditions that include a range of rotor speeds, fluid pressures and temperatures, from steady state operating conditions of high pressure turbines of aircraft engines to sections of steam turbines.

The present paper provides a system level description of the test rig. The main test section of the rig is housed within the centerpiece of a stamped pressure vessel. A drive train penetrates the pressure vessel and consists of an integral saddle mounted rotor. A motor connected to a high-speed gearbox through couplings on each end permits rotation of the test rotor. The test rotor is supported by two bearing pedestals. The paper describes these rig subsystems with focus on novel features for ease of operation. Key instrumentation and operating procedures that enable the rig to operate safely are also described. Key drivers of the rig design, such as test requirements, rotordynamics, mechanical design, ergonomics, safety and test productivity are outlined. Mechanical design considerations include strict requirements for thermal and pressure deformation under demanding conditions of pressure and temperature. Commissioning of the rig included phases of fabrication, installation, shakeout, calibration and benchmarking. Key learnings from the rig design and commissioning process, as well as operations, are summarized.

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