Prediction of Instability in Rotor-Seal Systems using Forward Whirl Magnetic Bearing Excitation

  • C. Wagner
  • W. Tsunoda
  • O. Matsushita
  • T. Berninger
  • T. Thümmel
  • D. Rixen


To separate different fluids and pressure levels in high-speed turbomachinery or pumps, mostly contactless seals are used. The leakage flow inside the seal gap applies forces to the vibrating rotor system in deflectional and tangential directions, that are dependent on the rotational speed. Above a speed limit, mainly tangential seal forces can lead to self-excited vibrations and, ultimately, rotor instability. This is similar to the “oil whip” phenomenon in journal bearings. To predict the speed limit, two methods are shown and compared: Simulations based on the bulk flow assumptions and an experimental method. To demonstrate the application, a test rig is used. The experimental method uses measured transfer functions, utilizing an active magnetic bearing for forward whirl excitation in the safe operational range. The speed limit can be predicted by analyzing and extrapolating the vibrational behavior of the rotor-seal system.