In order to investigate experimentally the dynamic behavior of a noncontacting flexibly mounted rotor (FMR) mechanical face seal a test rig was designed and built. Test results showed that the FMR seal was vulnerable to higher harmonic oscillations with frequencies that are integer multiples of the shaft speed. Because system nonlinearities can cause higher harmonic oscillations, the dynamic moments acting on the rotor are derived to include the effects of imbalance and axial offset of the rotor. The analysis reveals that the nonlinear terms involved are of second order and generally can be neglected. Investigation is then directed to analyze the possibility of rubbing contact between the rotor and the stator. Rubbing contact can occur as a result of a high relative angular misalignment between the rotor and the stator. A contact kinematics model is proposed and a Fourier series analysis is performed on the resulting rotor response. The analysis shows that the proposed response contains higher harmonics. Fourier series expansion and numerical filtering of a sampled rotor response from the test rig yield resembling signals which contain higher harmonics. This suggests that rubbing contact is the source of higher harmonic oscillations. Design modification to the rotor flexible support system resulted in a virtual elimination of higher harmonic oscillations.

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