Dynamic behaviour of rotary mechanical seals

  • R.T. Rowles

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis covers both experimental and computer investigations into the dynamic behaviour of mechanical seals. The literature survey shows no investigations on the effect of vibration on mechanical seals of the type common in the various process industries. Typical seal designs are discussed.
A form of Reynolds' equation has been developed that permits the calculation of stiffnesses and damping coefficients for the fluid film. The dynamics of the mechanical seal floating ring have been investigated using approximate formulae, and it has been shown that the floating ring will behave as a rigid body. Some elements, such as the radial damping due to the fluid film, are small and may be neglected. The equations of motion of the floating ring have been developed utilising the significant elements, and a solution technique described.
The stiffness and damping coefficients of nitrile rubber o-rings have been obtained. These show a wide variation, with a constant stiffness up to 60 Hz. The importance of the effect of temperature on the properties is discussed. An unsuccessful test rig is described in the appendices.
The dynamic behaviour of a mechanical seal has been investigated
experimentally, including the effect of changes of speed, sealed pressure and seal geometry. The results, as expected, show that high vibration levels result in both high leakage and seal temperatures.
Computer programs have been developed to solve Reynolds' Equation and the equations of motion. Two solution techniques for this latter program were developed, the unsuccesful technique is described in the appendices. Some stability problems were encountered, but despite these the solution shows good
agreement with some of the experimental conditions. Possible reasons for the discrepancies are discussed.
Various suggestions for future work in this field are
given. These include the combining of the programs and more
extensive experimental and computer modelling.
Date of AwardJan 1980
Original languageEnglish


  • mechanical seals
  • vibration
  • O-rings
  • reynolds' equation

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