With the increase of the operating pressure of gas compressors, the demand for a robust and reliable shaft end sealing solution, namely dry gas seal, has risen. The narrow sealing gap formed between the rotating and the stationary rings, about 2–5 micrometers wide, is subject to the hydrodynamic pressure on sealing surfaces and deflections on both rings due to mechanical forces and thermal loads. In order to estimate the seal performance in terms of film thicknesses, leakage flows and radial tapers, a numerical program which automatically couples the simulation of the pressure field in micro-scale based on the Reynolds equation for compressible fluids, the heat generation and transfer model between the fluid and solids as well as the structural and thermal distortion of both rings, has been developed by the authors to address the mechanical seal problem as a whole system. In this way, the interaction of all arising forces, mechanical deformations and thermal deviations is taken into account in the design process of the seals. The choked flow exit boundary is also taken into considerations for high pressure conditions.

The method to solve this interactive problem as a whole is discussed. The paper presents the numerical analysis carried out with various groove parameters, seal geometries and operating conditions. Results are compared and show a good agreement with actual experimental data. Design parameters which have strong influences on the seal performance are as well discussed.

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