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. Annular seals with deliberately roughened stators (i.e. damping seals) have been shown analyticalty to increase stability margins of rocket engine turbomachinery by reducing the seal’s whirl frequency ratio. The capabilities of MSFC’s annular seal test rig have been enhanced to allow high fluid inlet preswirl testing that is more representative of actual turbopump seal bounder conditions. The purpose of this paper is to describe the effect of this realistic preswirl on the stabilizing capability of both damping and smooth seals. Centered seal results are presented for both a smooth annular seal and a damping seal. These results were obtained for a range of seal pressure differentials, shaft rotational speeds, and two levels of inlet fluid preswirl.

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