No. 140, 2018, 83-104

The effects of variable operational parameters on an aero engine labyrinth seals performance
A. Szymański, S. Dykas, M. Majkut and M. Strozik


The paper presents the accurate assessment of the amount of gas flowing through three types of aero-engine expander sealing. Structures consisting of straight-through labyrinth seals – with one, two and three fins are considered. The study deploys two independent approaches. The first one focuses on the experimental research using high-precision test section with non-rotating labyrinth seals specimen connected to a high capacity vacuum installation. Experimentally tested seals are of actual size (model to engine scale is 1:1). High accuracy hot-wire anemometry probes, and orifice plate are deployed to evaluate the flow indicators accurately, allowing for comparison of different sealing structures. The second approach uses quasi-two-dimensional axissymmetric, steady-state Reynolds averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) computations to simulate the flow field. Various meshes and turbulence models were tested, presenting capabilities as well as limitations of specific computational approaches. The experimental and computational results were compared with literature data, showing a good agreement regarding overall trends, yet underlining some local discrepancies. This paper brings two significant findings. The 2D RANS methods tend to overestimate the leakage when compared with experimental results, and the difference is more significant for advanced arrangements. There is a notable difference between the performance of labyrinth seal with one fin and structure with two and three fins. In some operational areas, one-finned seal performs better than more advanced ones, reducing the leakage more effectively. This feature of one finned seal is not intuitive, as one would expect it to perform worse than a seal with two or three fins.


Labyrinth seals; Experiment; Turbomachinery; Gas turbine; Validation