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Measurement and Analysis of Inadequate Friction Mechanisms in Liquid-Buffered Mechanical Seals Utilizing Acoustic Emission Technique

Medina-Arenas, Manuel; Sopp, Fabian; Stolle, Johannes; Schley, Matthias; Kamieth, René; Wassermann, Florian

Mechanical seals play an important role in the reliability of a process. Currently, the condition monitoring of mechanical seals is restricted due to the limitations of the traditional monitoring methods, including classical vibration analysis. For this reason, the objective of the present work is the detection and analysis of friction mechanisms inside a mechanical seal that are unfavorable and induce fault conditions using the acoustic emission technique, which allows the measurement of high-frequency vibrations that arise due to material fatigue processes on a microscopic scale. For this purpose, several fault condition modes were induced on a test rig of an agitator vessel system with a double-acting mechanical seal and its buffer fluid system. It was possible to detect the presence of inadequate friction mechanisms due to the absence and limited use of lubrication, as well as the presence of abrasive wear, by measuring a change in the properties of the acoustic emissions. Operation under fault condition modes was analyzed using the acoustic emission technique before an increase in the leakage rate was evaluated using traditional monitoring methods. The high friction due to the deficient lubrication was characterized by a pattern in the high-frequency range that consisted of the harmonics of a fundamental frequency of about 33 kHz. These results demonstrate the feasibility of a condition monitoring system for mechanical seals using the acoustic emission technique.
Published in: Vibration, 10.3390/vibration4010018, MDPI