The prediction of fluid flow through a narrow gap is a characteristic problem in fluid mechanics. In today’s turbomachinery, several applications in bearing and sealing technology are based on the phenomena of two surfaces being separated by a thin fluid film of only a few micrometers. The common method for analyzing the non-contact application’s performance usually applies the lubrication theory based on the Reynolds equation. This two-dimensional model is based on the assumption of a laminar viscous flow field, isothermal conditions and it takes aerostatic as well as aerodynamic effects into account. In cases of a complex geometry and challenging flow conditions this approach has its limitations. The usage of commercial state of the art computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software allows the circumvention of these restrictions. As a matter of fact CFD simulations take up high effort in terms of preparation and calculation time. The present contribution compares the numerical approaches with regard to the application’s performance accuracy and calculation effort, using the example of a dry gas seal. To extend the Reynolds equation’s applicability to a wide variety of geometries, a method for implementing the topography design with high fidelity is depicted. The numerical methods are performed for various dry gas seal designs at different operating conditions and are compared with reference data.

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