Some non contacting mechanical face seals are running near the laminar boundary flow limit. A modification of operating conditions leads to a non laminar fluid flow in the seal interface while inertia forces remain negligible. A numerical model has been developed to determine pressure and velocity fields in the sealing dam for laminar to turbulent regime. The turbulent viscosity determination is based on the Elrod and Ng model. Evolutions of seal characteristics (opening force, friction torque, leakage rate…) and fluid film dynamic coefficients versus running conditions are presented. Numerical results show that great variations appear in the transition to turbulence.

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