Across the broad spectrum of process industry applications today, fluid handling sealing systems perform a vital role in plant safety, maintaining pump efficiency, reliability, energy consumption, water usage and control of emissions to the environment. Often well hidden within the visible pumping equipment structure, mechanical seals operate 24/7 performing the critical function of static and dynamic sealing between the fixed pump housing and rotational drive shaft. From aqueous solutions to very abrasive slurries to highly volatile and hazardous fluids, mechanical seal technology continues to advance meeting the increasingly demanding application conditions and emission control standards required of users today.
Mechanical Seal Design
The most basic mechanical seal is comprised of a primary wear ring element fixed to the rotating shaft and a stationary opposing wear ring element that is fixed within the pump housing. Having precisely machined surfaces, these two wear components or seal faces are axially spring loaded together creating a seal interface. Dynamically, the wear faces operate on an extremely thin, highly engineered fluid film creating a stable, controlled operating environment between rubbing surfaces of the seal faces.
Maximum Sealing Safety and Reliability
Seal education and operator safety awareness training is of the highest priorities that the Fluid Sealing Association member companies promote. The FSA KnowledgeBase (fsaknowledgebase.org) shares design tools, best operating practices, and guidelines to meet government regulations using best available control technology, which emphasizes the importance of applying the right seal design for each given set of operating conditions. Seal selection based on all working conditions, fluid properties, equipment operating procedures and proven performance to industry standards like API-682 all must be considered and applied to achieve maximizing mean time between planned maintenance.
Recent advances in mechanical seal technology are playing a significant role in our collective responsibility to promote and achieve fluid control systems that meet the highest levels of environmental responsibility. The development of engineered seal face materials is lowering the coefficient of friction on seal faces thereby reducing power consumption, heat generation, and the associated the volume of cooling water required. Gas lubricated dry running dual seals that further minimize power consumption and fully isolate the process fluid from atmosphere are achieving near zero emissions to the atmosphere and the utilization of fluid dynamics modeling tools providing highly predictive behavior of seal interface conditions is optimizing performance on highly critical applications.