Civil aero-engines contain two or three shafts that are supported by bearings. Seals are required both between pairs of rotating shafts and between static elements and shafts. Seals located between two co/contra rotating shafts within the bearing chamber are known as intershaft seals and are typically classified as either hydraulic or oil backed. This paper focuses on research relevant to intershaft hydraulic seals.

A hydraulic seal is formed by a seal fin on the inner shaft immersed in an annulus of oil in the outer shaft where the oil in the annulus is centrifuged outwards by the radial pressure gradient. Once formed a hydraulic seal does not allow air to flow across the seal and any pressure difference across the seal creates different oil levels either side of the fin. Despite their reliable operation with zero leakage, the application of hydraulic seals is restricted due to temperature limitations, oil degradation and coking. Research and development of the next generation of hydraulic seals needs to focus on addressing these issues so that the seals can be utilized in hotter zones in future engines. Understanding of the detailed fluid dynamic behaviour during hydraulic seal operation is relatively limited with very little published data. There is an acknowledged need for improved knowledge and this is the context for the current study.

The ability to accurately computationally model hydraulic seals is highly desirable. Prior experimental and analytical investigations into fully and partially wetted rotating disks have been used to aid understanding of the performance and flow characteristics of hydraulic seals as there are many geometric and operational similarities. These fundamental experimental investigations in the literature provide validation data that allows the authors to establish a CFD modelling methodology.

This paper initially compares the flow characteristics of a fully wetted rotating disk against experimental results available in literature including the radial and tangential velocity components. This paper subsequently investigates the flow characteristics of a partially wetted disk by examining the effect on the angular velocity of the fluid core with varying engagement and spacing ratios for two flow regimes.

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