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Novel Shaft Seals for Turbomachinery

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, March 02, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The Turbomachinery Research Centre (TRC) at the University of Bath is seeking a PhD candidate for an experimental project to develop novel shaft seals for gas turbines. Seals between high- and low-pressure turbine sections that reduce leakage are critical components in turbomachinery. However, start-up and shut-down rotordynamic transients often experienced in large rotating equipment lead to varying seal clearances, posing a challenge to designers to prevent seal rubs, lost performance, and costly corrective maintenance. The goal for engine designers is to minimise seal leakage and rubs that are detrimental to performance and turbomachinery efficiency.

Labyrinth seals are the most widely used shaft packing in turbomachinery because of their relatively low cost and high speed, high pressure, and high temperature capability. However, operating experience shows they are often rubbed in service and cause significant loss of performance. Both brush seals and leaf seals typically provide an order of magnitude improvement in leakage reduction compared to a labyrinth seal, while better accommodating radial rotor excursions. The objective of this project will be to advance the understanding of both brush seals and new adaptive leaf seal designs for future turbomachinery applications.

During the last three-years, two novel test facilities have been designed and commissioned at the University of Bath in partnership with Cross Manufacturing Ltd. A 10x scale static brush seal test rig has been built to investigate the fundamental fluid dynamics associated with flow through the bristle pack. A second high-speed rotating test rig, capable of replicating shaft excursions and characterising rotordynamic coefficients at near engine conditions, has also been constructed. It is envisaged that the PhD student will utilise these experimental facilities to their full capability as part of this study.

The project is in conjunction with Cross Manufacturing Ltd, a leading supplier of brush seal components to the aerospace and power generation industries. The student will work closely with engineers from Cross to perform the experiments and ensure the results are implemented at the company. There is also an expectation that the research is disseminated through publications, and presented at the annual AMSE Turbo Expo conference.

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Applicants should ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with an undergraduate Masters first class degree and/or MSc distinction (or equivalent overseas qualification). English language requirements must be met at the time of application to be considered for funding.


Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Please ensure you state the full project title and lead supervisor name.

Anticipated start date: September 2020

Funding Notes

Funding will cover UK/EU tuition fees, maintenance stipend £15,009 per annum (2019/20 rate) and training support fee of £1,000 per annum for up to 3 years.

How good is research at University of Bath in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 61.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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