Labyrinth honeycomb seals are regarded as very mature technology and seal flow performance improvements seem to be hardly achievable. However, since computational fluid dynamics have been successfully applied on the flow simulation through these seals, further seal performance optimization becomes within reach against acceptable development costs. This paper describes a staggered labyrinth seal design and is referenced against a two-knife edge stepped seal. Both seals have been evaluated with 3D CFD and tested in an advanced seal test rig facility under realistic conditions. The work described was done by the Dutch Aero Engine Cluster DAEC within the IMPACT-project for Improved Performance by Advanced Compressor Technology. The staggered seal has been selected initially based on potential performance gains, insensitive to axial excursion, good manufacturability, and robust design at acceptable development and manufacturing costs. The staggered labyrinth seal showed a performance improvement of over 30% compared with the baseline two knife edge stepped labyrinth seal. This was demonstrated by both, CFD-analyses and rig testing. In addition, the CFD and test data are consistent with each other.

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