Annular seals are known to enhance rotordynamic stability margins and minimize vibration response levels in high-speed rotating machinery. Theoretical predictions for the rotordynamic characteristics of annular seals exist but additional experimental data is needed to properly anchor these results. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) has developed an annular seal test rig and facility to experimentally characterize axially-fed annular seals. The objective of MSFC’s annular seal test rig is to obtain the rotordynamic coefficients (direct and cross-coupled stiffness, damping, and added mass) for a variety of high Reynolds number annular seals. The MSFC test rig supports centered-seal testing with inlet pressures up to 138 bars (2000 psi) and flow rates of over 946 liters per minute (250 gpm). The rig’s shaft is powered by a 186 kilowatt (250 horsepower) steam turbine capable of rotational speeds of over 20,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). A description of the identification process used to obtain rotordynamic coefficients is given as well as procedures for ensuring quality data. Experimental results for a smooth annular seal with an L/D = 0.5 is presented. Excellent agreement between experimental and theoretical results is obtained.

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