Design of an Impeller Labyrinth Seal


Dresser-Rand Team: Celeste To, Phoebe Degroot, Zin Min Aye

2012-2013: In collaboration with Dresser-Rand, this student team designed and prototyped a novel impeller labyrinth seal to maintain concentricity, reduce wear, and improve aerodynamic performance.  Labyrinth seals are a key component in reducing gas leakage in centrifugal gas compressors; the clearance between the seals and the rotor affects the overall efficiency of the compressor and the longevity of the parts.

Based on research about centrifugal gas compressors and labyrinth seal functionality, the team determined the key design requirements of pressure and temperature resistance, longer lifespan, lower manufacturing and installation costs, and improved compressor performance. The team then generated an extensive set of design concepts and selected the most promising to develop further.  The team refined and evaluated the selected design using computational fluid dynamics simulations in ANSYS CFX and mathematical analyses.  The team also fabricated a physical prototype for evaluation on a Dresser-Rand test rig.

The team delivered to Dresser-Rand design drawings and specifications, a physical prototype, and a list of further testing parameters.  Pending further work under different compressor conditions, Dresser-Rand could implement this novel labyrinth seal design in its compressors to improve compressor performance and reduce lifetime machinery costs.  U.S. Patent 9903477B2.