Field Reliability of Oil/Air Clearance Seal for Air Turbine Starters 1999-01-1377
A noncontacting clearance seal consists of a series of centrifugal air pumps and oil/air separators for air turbine starters on the BR710 and the CFM56-5 engines. Conventional contacting seals for rotating shafts are limited in life due to the formation of oxidized oil coke buildup on the sealing surfaces. The clearance seal directly addresses the problem of viscous heat generation in carbon face and lip seals by eliminating contact. Standard contacting seals typically have local temperature increases of 50 to 75 °F higher than the gearbox sump oil. Heat generation by the clearance seal is minimized, resulting in a significant increase in reliability compared to a standard contacting seal. The reliability increase is estimated for various flight-hour-to-start-cycle ratios in air turbine starter gearboxes.