The feasibility of eliminating contact in a noncontacting flexibly mounted rotor (FMR) mechanical face seal is studied. The approach for contact elimination is based on a parametric study using FMR seal dynamics. Through clearance adjustment it is possible to reduce the maximum normalized relative misalignment between seal faces and, therefore, eliminate seal face contact Clearance is measured by proximity probes and varied through a pneumatic adjustment mechanism. Contact is determined phenomenologically from pattern recognition of probe signals and their power spectrum densities as well as angular misalignment orbit plots, all calculated and displayed in real-time. The contact elimination strategy is experimentally investigated for various values of stator misalignment and initial rotor misalignment Contrary to intuition but compliant with the parametric study, the experimental results show that for the seal under consideration contact can be eliminated through clearance reduction.

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