The paper deals with the static stability of annular gas seals under choked flow conditions. For a centered straight annular seal, choking can occur only in the exit section because the gas is constantly accelerated by friction forces. From the mathematical standpoint, the flow choking corresponds to a singularity that was never dealt with numerically. The present work introduces an original numerical treatment of this singularity that is validated by comparisons to the analytical solution for planar channel flow. An interesting observation stemming from these results is that the usual hypothesis of considering the flow as being isothermal is not correct anymore for a gas accelerated by a pressure gradient; the characteristics of the flow are the same but the quantitative results are different. The analysis of eccentric annular seals then shows that choked flow conditions produce a change in the static stiffness. For a subsonic exit section, the Lomakin effect is represented by a centering radial force opposed to the rotor displacement. For a choked exit section, the radial force stemming from an eccentricity perturbation has the same direction as the rotor displacement. The annular seal becomes then statically unstable. From the physical standpoint, this behavior is explained by the modification of the Lomakin effect, which changes sign. The pressure and Mach number variations along the seal depict the influence of high compressible flow regimes on the Lomakin effect. This characteristic has never been depicted before.

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