An experimental investigation was conducted to identify an optimum oil-buffered shaft seal for use on centrifugal compressors, with the primary objective being minimal seal oil exposure to process gases that cause seal oil degradation or are toxic. Types of seals tested included smooth bore cylindrical bushings, spiral groove cylindrical bushings, radial outward-flow face seals, and radial inward-flow face seals. The influence of shaft speed, gas pressure, seal oil differential pressure, oil bypass flow rate, and oil supply temperature on process side seal oil flow rate was determined. The investigation revealed some surprising relationships between seal oil flow rates and the escape of process gas.

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