Effective sealing in turbomachinery reduces the leakage flow bypassing the turbine blades and also reduces the losses where the leakage flow mixes with the primary flow. In general the clearance should be as small as possible but is limited by thermal and mechanical effects which vary with load. In recent years intermittent energy sources, particularly wind and solar, have appeared in greater numbers on the power network. As a consequence conventional power plants need to become more flexible to accommodate renewable energy generation. A sealing technology which can accommodate rapid changes in load and maintain seal performance would be a valuable development.
This paper presents a novel seal design for steam turbines. The seal is designed to be capable of maintaining a smaller clearance than that of conventional labyrinth seals whilst allowing for dynamic movement with the rotor. The paper describes the seal concept and the analytic al work undertaken to demonstrate the concept. The seal design has also been tested in test facilities at Durham and the initial experimental results are included. They show that the concept works as intended.