The following paper presents and compares rotordynamic force coefficients for three types of non-contact annular gas seals, which include a labyrinth (LABY), honeycomb (HC), and a fully partitioned damper seal (FPDS). These three annular seals represent the typical seal types used in process gas centrifugal compressors at the balance piston location or center seal location to limit internal leakage and ensure a robust rotordynamic design. Tests were conducted on 170.6 mm (6.716 in) diameter seals for rotor speeds up to 15 kprm, inlet air pressure of 6.9 bar (100 psi), ambient back pressure, and with inlet gas preswirl. The three seals were designed to have the same nominal clearance and similar axial lengths. Testing was conducted on a controlled motion test rig possessing non-synchronous excitation capability up to 250 Hz. Three different test methods were employed to give confidence in the rotordynamic coefficients, which include static force deflection tests, mechanical impedance tests, and dynamic cavity pressure tests. Results from experiments compare force coefficients for all seal configurations while paying special attention to the crossover frequencies of the effective damping term. All seals possessed negative effective damping at lower excitation frequencies with inlet preswirl, where the straight-through FPDS possessed the lowest cross over frequency of 40 Hz at 15 krpm. The testing also revealed that the preswirl parameter had significantly more influence on effective damping levels and crossover frequencies when compared to rotor speed.

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