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Compressors: N2 Expands the Applicability of Dry Gas Seals

By Samir K. Nayek and Leena Chaudhari Reliance Industries Ltd. India |

Ongoing advances in the design and use of dry gas seals (DGSs; [ 1]) — as an alternative to traditional oil-lubricated wet seals [ 2] — have helped to improve the reliability and efficiency of compressors throughout the chemical process industries (CPI). One of the major design considerations in mechanical seals is how to protect seal faces from wear, as one face rotates close to a static face. In traditional oil seals, the use of oil lubrication prevents such wear. As their name suggests, DGSs are free from wet oil lubrication. Instead, DGSs typically use the process gas to prevent seal wear. When the process gas is dirty or corrosive, nitrogen may be used as an external gas source for seal face lubrication. DGSs operate on the principle of maintaining micro-level separation (due to fluid-dynamic lift) between the two seal faces. Grooves in the rotating ring generate the necessary seal-gas pressure to maintain a gap of the order of 3 to 10 microns between the seal faces. During operation, this seal gas becomes compressed and the pressurized gas keeps the two seal faces apart. However, a small amount of this gas will get into system. In DGSs, the seal faces are not in contact with each other so there is no possibility for…
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