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Mechanical Seals

Typical Centrifugal Pump

1. Suction 2. Impeller 3. Discharge

6. Mechanical Seal
7. Gland

4. Stationary casing 5. Shaft

8. Bearings

Stuffing Box Pressure

The pressure acting on the stuffing box which
must be sealed.
It is a function of pump impeller design and the
presence or condition of wear rings.
Impeller design and Stuffing box pressure
Back vanes - Open impeller
Suction + 25% of differential = Stuffing box pressure

Balance Holes - Closed impeller

Suction + 10% of differential = Stuffing box pressure

Double Suction
Suction pressure = stuffing box pressure

Generally the higher the viscosity, the better the lubricating
A product with a viscosity of 20,000 SSU (5000 cp) can be
sealed with standard seals
Beyond 5000 cp, the drive unit has to be beefed up to
compensate for the increased shear occurring at the sealing
For high viscous applications:
Single seal with external flush
Double seal with external flush
The viscosity & lubricity of water decrease with increased
temperature. Above 82C (viscosity 0.35 cp) seal faces can
contact each other and wear rapidly, unless specially designed

Specific Gravity
Specific Gravity = Density of a substance
Density of Water at 4C
Specific gravity is used to estimate the lubricity of
light hydrocarbons
Specific gravity below 0.68 (Heptane), require one
face as carbon and special seal face design with
higher balance to contain fugitive emissions

Vapour Pressure
The pressure at which a liquid will flash into vapor at
given temperature
If seal generated heat causes the sealing liquid to boil
in seal chamber pressure, the liquid film between the
seal faces will vaporize.
Solution :
Increase seal chamber pressure with proper bypass flush
line and throat restriction device.
Cooling the seal chamber. Seal chamber should be kept at
least 15C below the boiling point of the product at the
seal chamber pressure

Operated under cavitating conditions for sufficient length of

Pitting of impeller vanes and pump volute

Short bearing life and heavy loading
Shaft breakage and other fatigue failures in the pump
Short seal life

Damages to mechanical seals can be :

worn pins and pin slots

Broken springs
shaft fretting
Chipping of carbon faces

High speed video shows that seal face temperature excursions occurred when
gases were drawn across the seal faces and by the formation of gas bubbles in the
seal chamber near the seal faces during pump cavitation.
Seal Performance during cavitation :

Normal Pump

Pump Cavitation

Seal chamber
temperature (C)



Shaft sleeve
vibration, mils p-p


2 to 8.4

Seal face
vibration, mils p-p


13 to 35

Seal face
temperature ( C )

67 to 74

166 to 427

Pusher Seals :
Vibration should be kept below 0.32 inches/second
At levels beyond 0.32 inches/second and upto 0.60 inches/second seal
damage and leakage will start.

Bellows seals :
Axial vibration of the bellows seal end face
Caused by out of perpendicularity
Dampened by the hydraulic closing force

Axial vibration of the bellows leaflets

Caused by the vibration of the

Stick-slip torsional vibration

Radial vibration of the bellows seal face end piece

Typical Stuffing Box with compression packings


Packing Pusher


Stuffing Box


Disadvantages of Compression Packings

Power consumption is HIGH. The ratio of power consumption
of Mechanical Seal to compression packing is 1:8
Leakage is very high and unpredictable. Varies with compression
on the packings. The ratio of Leakage of mechanical seal to
compression packing is 1:600
No automatic wear compensation
Fretting on sleeve or shaft

Compression Packing Replaced with Mechanical Seal

Typical Unbalanced Seal

Springs Drive Pin
Set screw


Insert Mounting


Compression ring

Shaft Packing

Compression Unit
Hardwares: Collar, Compression ring, Gland, Sleeve
Seal Faces : Sealring & Insert
Secondary Packings : Shaft packing, Insert Mounting, Sleeve &
Gland Gaskets

5 Paths of Leakage
Gland Gasket
Shaft Packing
and Sealring


Shaft Packing
and Sleeve

Seal Faces

Materials : Hardwares

300 series Stainless Steel like 316ss, 316Lss

400 series Stainless Steel like 410ss
Duplex Stainless Steel
Alloy 20
Hastalloy B & C

Materials : Seal Faces

Carbons :

# 5 Carbon (273C)
#17 Carbon (320 C)
Antimony Impregnated Carbon (204 C)
#18 Carbon (Salt Impregnated - SB 200 only)
Special Grades

Materials : Seal Faces

Tungsten Carbide :
TungCar 62-6 (Ni bonded) - 400 C
TungCar 62-1 (Cobalt bonded) - 400 C

Silicon Carbide :
Silicon Carbide 1(Reaction bonded) - 427 C
Silicon Carbide 2 ( - Sintered)
- 427 C

Materials : Seal Faces

Peramic :
Pure Aluminum Oxide - 177 C
Weak in Thermal shock
Good Chemical resistance

Chromic Oxide layer on metal body - 177 C

Glass Filled Duraflon

in TB seals
Temperature limit of 71C as seal face

Shaft Packings
Fully Interchangeable Shaft Packings

- 204C
Neoprene - 107C
Buna N - 107C
EPR /EPT - 177C
- 315C

Pure Teflon
- 177C
Glass Filled Teflon
- 232C
Teflon Encap. O ring - 204C

API Seal Code