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The 11th Asian International Conference on Fluid Machinery and Paper number 132

The 3rd Fluid Power Technology Exibition November 21-23, 2011, IIT Madras, Chennai, India
RESEARCH ON MAIN SHAFT SEAL OF AERATOR AND DESIGN OF FLOATING
END FACE SEAL
Li Xiao’ou,Sheng Yetao,Xing Jinlong,Feng Suaijiang,Liu Weizhuang
Hefei General Machinery Research Institute
No.888 Changjiang Road West.HeFei 230031,PR China,lixo823@163.com
Abstract
Aerator is widely applied in the oxidation ditch technology for urban sewage and industrial
wastewater treatment, its horizontal rotary shaft generally adopts the conventional framework oil seal,
in this paper the causes for leakage and short service life of the framework oil seal for its horizontal
rotary shaft are analyzed and the design scheme of floating end face seal is proposed. Through a great
deal of field operation, it is proved that the design of floating end face seal is successful, and the design
method and concept will offer certain guidance for the design and application of floating end face seal
for application under similar operating conditions in the future.
Keywords: Floating seal; Research; Design
1.Introduction
Aerator is widely applied in the oxidation ditch technology of urban sewage and
industrial wastewater treatment plant, it has the features of strong propulsion power, flexible
adjustment of aeration load, high efficiency, convenient repair management, etc., with the
macro-scale operation of sewage treatment and mainstream tendency of oxidation ditch
process, aerator application will be more extensive.
The supporting shaft of horizontal rotary shaft of aerator adopts self-aligning rolling
bearing with automatic alignment and grease lubrication. The bearing stand adopts split type
travelling supporting seat to overcome installation error and compensate axial contraction and
expansion due to temperature change.
Both the supporting seat and the tail-end bearing stand adopt FRP baffle cover to prevent
sludge from entering the bearing, the bearing stand is treated with anti-corrosion coating and
its both ends are provided with seals of better performance in order to prevent dirt from
entering the bearing stand and prevent external leakage of lubricating grease, thus suitable for
long-term operation in moist and sewage environment. Due to harsh working environment of
seals and effect of rotation precision of rotary shaft, the sealing performance of rotary lip seal
adopted for the equipment is less ideal and short-lived, which resulted in injury of bearing due
to ingression of sludge into the bearing stand, making the equipment unable to operate nor2.
2.Failure cause analysis of seal
The structure of rotary lip seal adopted for the equipment is as shown in Fig. 1.
Original paper
Accepted for publication.
Corresponding author:Li Xiao’ou,lixo823@163.com
Paper ID:AICFM_TM_009

hou:`u_
m·tu` ·u:·
u`· :`d·
:µ·`u_ o°°:·t
·outu·t »`dth
°'·x`|'·
m·m|·uu·
_u·t··
:µ·`u_
o`' :`d·
o`'
:hu°t
β α

Fig. 1 Rotary lip seal
2.1 Microscopic analysis-deformation of rough structure
When the rotary lip seal is under operating state, the action of radial load makes the apex
of the seal lip be flattened and αηβ, therefore, the resulting contact pressure profile is
non-symmetric. The pressure profile is a quasi-triangular with the point of biggest pressure
near the oil side of the contact face. When the shaft rotates, the friction shear stress generated
on the interface makes the elastomer surface displace tangentially, as a result, the biggest
displacement coincides with the biggest radial contact pressure. Therefore, the profile of
tangential displacement reflects contact pressure profile. On microscopic scale, the rough
structure is developed, it skews in opposite direction at both sides of the peak contact pressure.
In fact, it has been observed that when the initial wear mode makes the microscopic
waveform extend axially, these “ridges” also skew in opposite direction. The conclusion is
that the relatively skewed microscopic structure functions as deflector, which makes the
circumferential shear flow offset toward the biggest pressure, as shown in Fig. 2. In principle,
these deflectors can pump the oil to the interface from both sides, however, because the oil
pumped on air side is more than that pumped on oil side, the pumping capacity is different for
each side.
Therefore, the overall description is as follows: in normal operation, the oil first enters
the sealing gap under the combined capillary action on oil side and pumping action of rough
structure. When the oil enters the interface, the pumping action begins to function. The
microscopic pump on air side (sludge side) has higher potential pumping capability, therefore,
a hydrodynamic equilibrium is established, thus, the seal runs on the oil film without leakage.
The friction force during the sealing is higher than that when the remaining oil is supplied
from air side, therefore, the sealing is in lean lubrication state
[2]
.

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Fig. 2 Diversion of shear flow by deformed micro-asperities
2.2 Macroscopic analysis-skewed lip
In the practice, the span between two supporting points of such equipment reaches over
4m, yet they are installed on two bases, due to large span and the effect of such factors as
gravity, centrifugal force, reaction of water, etc. during the operation, the contact band of the
rotary lip seal is in fact seldom perpendicular to the axis (including that the seal is not
accurately positioned on the locating shaft shoulder), as shown in Fig. 3. Therefore, the entire
seal can tilt to the axis. Or, there may exist angular eccentricity between the seal box and the
seal lip due to manufacturing tolerance of the seal.
Moreover, the inner bore of the chamber is not
parallel to the axis. The result of these actions is
that when the shaft rotates, the seal lip will have
reciprocating axial movement of low amplitude.
Its frequency is consistent with the frequency of
shaft rotation, and the length of axial travel
depends on the magnitude of angular eccentricity.
Whereas we know that reciprocating seal with
non-symmetric pressure profile pumps toward the
zone of relatively steep contact pressure gradient.
Therefore, it is not difficult to see from the figure
that the pumping is towards the larger contact
angle of the lip
[2]
.
Fig. 3 Deflective contact due to eccentricity
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3. Seal design
3.1 Selection of seal structure
In consideration of the factors such as large span of such equipment, etc. and in
combination with aforesaid failure analysis, it can be judged that rotary lip seal is difficult to
have excellent sealing performance and service life under such conditions. The operating
parameters for the supporting shaft of horizontal rotary shaft of the aerator are listed in Table
1. However, what must be noticed is that the medium outside it is sludge.
Table 1 Operating parameter
Medium temperature 4~45ć
pH value of medium 5~10
Ambient temperature -20~50ć
Oil temperature 4~60ć
Rotary speed 50~80r/min
Fault-free continuous operating time not less than 10000h
Through investigation on the past service of seals and in combination with field
conditions, the seal is determined to be of the structure of floating end face seal, which is a
sealing structure with excellent high temperature resistance and wear resistance and with
simple structure and short axial dimension. Its function is to keep lubricating grease (oil) from
leakage, meanwhile prevent ingression of outside silt, powder, sewage, etc. into the bearing
cavity, its structure is shown as in Fig. 4. Floating end face seal is mainly composed of two
identical floating seal rings and O rubber rings, among the two seal rings, one is rotary, the
other is stationary, they are structurally symmetric and are axially compressed through O
rubber rings to form end face seal. The two O rubber rings act as elastic compensative
elements of the seals, and fix them within their respective floating seal seats through friction
force, meanwhile, they have the function of auxiliary seal.
D!
D?
|
α
β

Fig. 4 Structural diagram of floating end face seal
3.2 Design of floating end face seal

The design of floating end face seal is mainly to determine the reasonable amount of
axial compression so as to make the seal have reasonable sealing end face pressure,
meanwhile, ensure the moment generated between O rubber ring and floating ring and
floating seal seat drives the floating ring to rotate or stay still. Generally, in the design
calculations, first determine end face specific pressure of floating end face seal according to
empirical value, estimate the magnitude of axial force according to the end face width of the
pair of friction, and then determine amount of axial compression of floating end face seal
according to axial force
[3]
. Or conduct design calculations according to opposite procedure.
3.2.1 Calculation of amount of compression
According to external dimensions of floating end face seal, we can accurately calculate
the amount of compression of O ring.
E sin
1
H d ' (1)
Where:
1
H - axial displacement of tilting surface of floating end face seal ring (mm)
E - outward inclination angle of floating end face seal ring (°)
Because each point on the cross section of O ring in deformation generates uniform
displacement on each tilting surface, when we need to determine the position of each tilting
surface relative to the center of cross section of O ring, we only take half of d ' .
1
H ˙0.5
E sin
d '
(2)
2
H ˙0.5
J sin
d '
(3)
Where:
2
H - displacement of tilting surface of housing or end cover relative to center of
cross section of O ring (mm)
J - Inclination angle of cylindrical surface of housing or end cover (°)
So, the total axial displacement of O ring H (mm) is:
) ( 2
2 1
H H H )
sin
1
sin
1
(
J E
' | d (4)
In general case, amount of compression d ' takes (15~30)% of diameter of cross
section of O ring, E ˙8~20°, J ˙6~12°.
For a single floating end face seal, H is the amount of compression of O ring, and for
double floating end face seal, the total amount of compression of two O rings is 2 H .
3.2.2 Calculation of axial force

Under the condition that no tensile stress is pre-applied to inner diameter of O ring, the
value of axial force can be obtained approximately by the following empirical formula
[3]
:
¸
¸
¹
·
¨
¨
©
§

2
2
0
1
1 2
d
L
EF K P
k
k
(5)
Where:
0
K - compression deformation ratio of O ring (%)
E - elastic modulus of O ring (kg/cm
2
)

d
- diameter of cross section of O ring (cm)
k k k
L D F S

k L
- width of contact surface (cm), which can be determined by the following
formula:
2 2
2 2
2
¸
¹
·
¨
©
§
'
¸
¹
·
¨
©
§
d
d d
L
k
(6)
k
D - average diameter of contact surface (cm), which can be determined by the
following formula:
»
¼
º
«
¬
ª
¸
¹
·
¨
©
§
' r r E sin
2 2
d
d d
D D
cp k
(7)
»
¼
º
«
¬
ª
¸
¹
·
¨
©
§
' r r J sin
2 2
d
d d
D D
cp k
(8)
cp
D - mean diameter of O ring (cm)
Take positive sign (+) for the deformed section at outer end of O ring, and take negative
sign (-) for deformed section at inner end.
For caterpillar type machinery and coal mining machinery, etc., a reasonable
recommended value for contact pressure is obtained through use experience, that is, this value
falls within the range of about 0.3~0.6MPa
[4]
, whereas for floating end face seal used for
drilling tool, its end face specific pressure can reach 1.4MPa
[5][6]
.
According to the operating conditions of supporting shaft of horizontal rotary shaft, the
end face specific pressure of floating end face seal can be determined to be within the range of
0.40~0.48MPa.
3.2.3 Material selection of floating end face seal
The material for floating ring is made by such methods as of precision casting, powder
metallurgy and plasma spray welding, etc. or made of polyurethane. In consideration of actual

operating conditions of the equipment, the floating ring is made of wear-resistant,
corrosion-resistant high-hardness high CrMo alloy cast iron with a hardness HRC65~72.
Meanwhile, the material should be magnetic particle examined so as to judge whether there is
any defect inside it.
The O ring of floating end face seal selects nitrile rubber with the features of oil
resistance, aging resistance and resistance to heat, wear and corrosion, etc. In the material
selection of O ring, special attention should be paid to that if the lubricating oil used has
higher content of ultimate pressure additive, nitrile rubber with lower content of acrylonitrile
should be selected.
4. Application of floating end face seal
After finishing the design of floating end face seal, according to the demand of a project,
54 seals were installed for operation at one time. Due to the requirement for project time, after
completion of processing and manufacture of the seals, 3 sets of seal samples are taken and
hydrostatic test and 5h performance test are carried out for them in the laboratory, thereby the
performance of floating seal is preliminarily verified and they are all put into site installation
and service. Considering this is the first time to apply floating end face seals to the supporting
shaft of horizontal rotary shaft of aerator and there are no sufficient empirical values about
life of seals, two ratios, i.e. 20% and 25% were adopted for the compression ratio of O ring
with a view to obtaining valuable conclusion in practical operation.
In fact, this lot of floating end face seals have exhibited good sealing performance and
service life. The service life of the floating end faces all exceeds three years, which greatly
exceeds the service life of only a few months of the original rotary lip seal. It has already been
three years later that occurred the repair of a few of them, meanwhile, these two compression
ratios(20% and 25%) showed no substantial difference in service life of the floating end faces.
At present, only the authors’ company has provided several hundred sets of floating end
face seals which are used in sewage treatment equipment, and this type of seal has been
extensively used by equipment manufacturers in sewage treatment equipment in large quantity,
therefore, the development of this type of seal won success.
5. Conclusions
5.1 The design method adopted for floating end face seal is feasible.
5.2 Both the rotary ring and stationary ring adopted in the structure of floating end face seal
are floating ring with good floating performance, insensitivity to coaxiality and eccentricity of

the supporting shaft of the horizontal rotary shaft and with low requirement.
5.3 Through a great deal of field operation, the service life of the seal is increased to over
three years from the original a few months.
5.4 It is proved that the design and application of floating end face seal are successful, and the
design method and concept will offer certain guidance for the design and application of
floating end face seal for application under similar operating conditions in the future.
References
[1] Liu Jinzhao, et al, 2003,Renovation of rotary brush aerator for domestic sewage treatment
plant, Urban environment and urban ecology, Vol. 16, No. 6.
[2] Heinz, K. Muller, et al.2002, translated by Cheng Chuanqing et al., Fluid Sealing
Technology -Principles and application, Machinery Industry Press,
ISBN7-111-10335-1/TB.317.
[3] Chen Heyou,1992,Research on O rings in floating end face seal system, Fluid
Engineering, Vol. 20, No. 9.
[4] Sun Jian, et al.2006, Application and performance analysis of floating end face seal, Fluid
Engineering, Vol. 34, No. 6.
[5] Luo Wei, et al.1994, Research and design of metallic floating seal for cone bit, Petroleum
Machinery, Vol. 22, No. 12.
[6] Jiang Zhiming, et al.2004, Discussion on processing and assembly methods of floating
seal, Coal Mine Machinery, 2004, No. 8.

the seal runs on the oil film without leakage. the overall description is as follows: in normal operation. as shown in Fig.α β Fig. the profile of tangential displacement reflects contact pressure profile. therefore. In principle. The conclusion is that the relatively skewed microscopic structure functions as deflector. the pumping action begins to function. 2. . the action of radial load makes the apex of the seal lip be flattened and α β. which makes the circumferential shear flow offset toward the biggest pressure. On microscopic scale. thus. therefore. a hydrodynamic equilibrium is established. as a result. The pressure profile is a quasi-triangular with the point of biggest pressure near the oil side of the contact face. When the shaft rotates. 1 Rotary lip seal 2. the rough structure is developed. the sealing is in lean lubrication state[2]. the friction shear stress generated on the interface makes the elastomer surface displace tangentially. In fact. The microscopic pump on air side (sludge side) has higher potential pumping capability. however. The friction force during the sealing is higher than that when the remaining oil is supplied from air side. When the oil enters the interface. Therefore. because the oil pumped on air side is more than that pumped on oil side. the biggest displacement coincides with the biggest radial contact pressure. it skews in opposite direction at both sides of the peak contact pressure. Therefore. therefore. these deflectors can pump the oil to the interface from both sides.1 Microscopic analysis-deformation of rough structure When the rotary lip seal is under operating state. the pumping capacity is different for each side. these “ridges” also skew in opposite direction. the oil first enters the sealing gap under the combined capillary action on oil side and pumping action of rough structure. it has been observed that when the initial wear mode makes the microscopic waveform extend axially. the resulting contact pressure profile is non-symmetric.

and the length of axial travel depends on the magnitude of angular eccentricity.Fig. centrifugal force. The result of these actions is that when the shaft rotates. the span between two supporting points of such equipment reaches over 4m. Or.2 Macroscopic analysis-skewed lip In the practice. Fig. the entire seal can tilt to the axis. there may exist angular eccentricity between the seal box and the seal lip due to manufacturing tolerance of the seal. 2 Diversion of shear flow by deformed micro-asperities 2. reaction of water. Moreover. Therefore. Therefore. yet they are installed on two bases. 3. as shown in Fig. the contact band of the rotary lip seal is in fact seldom perpendicular to the axis (including that the seal is not accurately positioned on the locating shaft shoulder). the inner bore of the chamber is not parallel to the axis. 3 Deflective contact due to eccentricity . Whereas we know that reciprocating seal with non-symmetric pressure profile pumps toward the zone of relatively steep contact pressure gradient. during the operation. Its frequency is consistent with the frequency of shaft rotation. etc. due to large span and the effect of such factors as gravity. it is not difficult to see from the figure that the pumping is towards the larger contact angle of the lip[2]. the seal lip will have reciprocating axial movement of low amplitude.

which is a sealing structure with excellent high temperature resistance and wear resistance and with simple structure and short axial dimension. they are structurally symmetric and are axially compressed through O rubber rings to form end face seal. α β Fig. meanwhile prevent ingression of outside silt. 4. and in combination with aforesaid failure analysis. one is rotary. into the bearing cavity. etc. Table 1 Operating parameter Medium temperature pH value of medium Ambient temperature Oil temperature Rotary speed Fault-free continuous operating time 4~45 5~10 -20~50 4~60 50~80r/min not less than 10000h Through investigation on the past service of seals and in combination with field conditions. it can be judged that rotary lip seal is difficult to have excellent sealing performance and service life under such conditions. The operating parameters for the supporting shaft of horizontal rotary shaft of the aerator are listed in Table 1. its structure is shown as in Fig. the seal is determined to be of the structure of floating end face seal. meanwhile. and fix them within their respective floating seal seats through friction force. what must be noticed is that the medium outside it is sludge. 4 Structural diagram of floating end face seal 3. Floating end face seal is mainly composed of two identical floating seal rings and O rubber rings.3. the other is stationary.1 Selection of seal structure In consideration of the factors such as large span of such equipment. Its function is to keep lubricating grease (oil) from leakage. Seal design 3. However. The two O rubber rings act as elastic compensative elements of the seals. powder.2 Design of floating end face seal . sewage. etc. among the two seal rings. they have the function of auxiliary seal.

For a single floating end face seal. 3. we can accurately calculate the amount of compression of O ring. we only take half of 'd . E 8~20°. first determine end face specific pressure of floating end face seal according to empirical value. 3. 'd H 1 sin E (1) Where: H 1 . ensure the moment generated between O rubber ring and floating ring and floating seal seat drives the floating ring to rotate or stay still.5 'd sin E 'd sin J (2) (3) Where: H 2 .outward inclination angle of floating end face seal ring (°) Because each point on the cross section of O ring in deformation generates uniform displacement on each tilting surface.2 Calculation of axial force .1 Calculation of amount of compression According to external dimensions of floating end face seal. H1 H2 0. estimate the magnitude of axial force according to the end face width of the pair of friction. J 6~12°. the total axial displacement of O ring H (mm) is: H 2( H 1  H 2 ) | 'd ( 1 1  ) sin E sin J (4) In general case.axial displacement of tilting surface of floating end face seal ring (mm) E . amount of compression 'd takes (15~30)% of diameter of cross section of O ring. Or conduct design calculations according to opposite procedure.displacement of tilting surface of housing or end cover relative to center of cross section of O ring (mm) J .2. in the design calculations. when we need to determine the position of each tilting surface relative to the center of cross section of O ring. Generally. H is the amount of compression of O ring.5 0. and then determine amount of axial compression of floating end face seal according to axial force[3]. and for double floating end face seal. meanwhile.The design of floating end face seal is mainly to determine the reasonable amount of axial compression so as to make the seal have reasonable sealing end face pressure. the total amount of compression of two O rings is 2 H .Inclination angle of cylindrical surface of housing or end cover (°) So.2.

40~0. and take negative sign (-) for deformed section at inner end.48MPa.compression deformation ratio of O ring (%) E . that is..4MPa[5][6].elastic modulus of O ring (kg/cm2) d . which can be determined by the following formula: Lk · §d · §d 2 ¨ ¸  ¨  'd ¸ ¹ ©2¹ ©2 2 2 (6) Dk . etc. its end face specific pressure can reach 1. etc. this value falls within the range of about 0.2. the end face specific pressure of floating end face seal can be determined to be within the range of 0. or made of polyurethane. a reasonable recommended value for contact pressure is obtained through use experience.width of contact surface (cm).3 Material selection of floating end face seal The material for floating ring is made by such methods as of precision casting.diameter of cross section of O ring (cm) Fk SDk Lk L k . powder metallurgy and plasma spray welding. In consideration of actual . 3.mean diameter of O ring (cm) Take positive sign (+) for the deformed section at outer end of O ring. According to the operating conditions of supporting shaft of horizontal rotary shaft.6MPa[4]. For caterpillar type machinery and coal mining machinery. the value of axial force can be obtained approximately by the following empirical formula[3]: P 2 § ¨1  1  L k 2 K 0 EFk ¨ d2 © · ¸ ¸ ¹ (5) Where: K0 . which can be determined by the following formula: Dk Dk º ªd § d · Dcp r « r ¨  'd ¸ sin E » ¹ ¼ ¬2 © 2 ªd § d º · Dcp r « r ¨  'd ¸ sin J » ¹ ¬2 © 2 ¼ (7) (8) Dcp .3~0. whereas for floating end face seal used for drilling tool.Under the condition that no tensile stress is pre-applied to inner diameter of O ring.average diameter of contact surface (cm).

Conclusions 5. The O ring of floating end face seal selects nitrile rubber with the features of oil resistance. i.1 The design method adopted for floating end face seal is feasible. Application of floating end face seal After finishing the design of floating end face seal. after completion of processing and manufacture of the seals. The service life of the floating end faces all exceeds three years. In the material selection of O ring. according to the demand of a project. only the authors’ company has provided several hundred sets of floating end face seals which are used in sewage treatment equipment. etc. special attention should be paid to that if the lubricating oil used has higher content of ultimate pressure additive. nitrile rubber with lower content of acrylonitrile should be selected. the floating ring is made of wear-resistant. Due to the requirement for project time. which greatly exceeds the service life of only a few months of the original rotary lip seal. the development of this type of seal won success. insensitivity to coaxiality and eccentricity of . It has already been three years later that occurred the repair of a few of them. At present. wear and corrosion. therefore.e. and this type of seal has been extensively used by equipment manufacturers in sewage treatment equipment in large quantity. two ratios. In fact. the material should be magnetic particle examined so as to judge whether there is any defect inside it. 3 sets of seal samples are taken and hydrostatic test and 5h performance test are carried out for them in the laboratory. meanwhile. this lot of floating end face seals have exhibited good sealing performance and service life. corrosion-resistant high-hardness high CrMo alloy cast iron with a hardness HRC65~72. 5.operating conditions of the equipment. 4. 5. 54 seals were installed for operation at one time. Considering this is the first time to apply floating end face seals to the supporting shaft of horizontal rotary shaft of aerator and there are no sufficient empirical values about life of seals. thereby the performance of floating seal is preliminarily verified and they are all put into site installation and service.2 Both the rotary ring and stationary ring adopted in the structure of floating end face seal are floating ring with good floating performance. these two compression ratios(20% and 25%) showed no substantial difference in service life of the floating end faces. 20% and 25% were adopted for the compression ratio of O ring with a view to obtaining valuable conclusion in practical operation. aging resistance and resistance to heat. Meanwhile.

the supporting shaft of the horizontal rotary shaft and with low requirement.1992. Vol. et al. Vol. References [1] Liu Jinzhao. No. Urban environment and urban ecology.1994. [6] Jiang Zhiming. [2] Heinz. Coal Mine Machinery.Research on O rings in floating end face seal system. Fluid Sealing Technology -Principles and application.2004. Vol.2006. No. Research and design of metallic floating seal for cone bit. . and the design method and concept will offer certain guidance for the design and application of floating end face seal for application under similar operating conditions in the future. 5. the service life of the seal is increased to over three years from the original a few months. Fluid Engineering. [4] Sun Jian. 9. 5. translated by Cheng Chuanqing et al. et al.2002.3 Through a great deal of field operation. 12. 8. 6. Fluid Engineering. [5] Luo Wei. 34. et al. Discussion on processing and assembly methods of floating seal. 22. K. 2003. No. Machinery Industry Press. et al. 16. Muller. 20. 6. Application and performance analysis of floating end face seal.4 It is proved that the design and application of floating end face seal are successful.317. Petroleum Machinery. ISBN7-111-10335-1/TB. No..Renovation of rotary brush aerator for domestic sewage treatment plant. No. et al. Vol. [3] Chen Heyou. 2004.