Elastohydrodynamic model of reciprocating hydraulic rod seals
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Reciprocating rod seals are widely used in hydraulic systems to prevent the hydraulic fluid from leaking into and polluting the environment. In this research an elastohydrodynamic model of a generalized reciprocating hydraulic rod seal, including mixed lubrication and surface roughness, has been successfully developed. This model consists of coupled fluid mechanics, contact mechanics, thermal analysis and deformation analyses. Such model is capable of predicting the key seal performance characteristics, especially net leakage and friction force. This allows evaluation of potential seal designs and serves as design tools. Also as this model has been developed, the basic physics of seal operation has been clarified, which stimulates the development of innovative seal concepts, such as seals with engineered sealing surfaces. The results of this study indicate that in general, hydraulic rod seals operate in the mixed lubrication regime, although under certain conditions full film lubrication may occur over a portion of the sealing zone. The roughness of the seal surface and the rod speeds play important roles in determining whether or not a seal will leak. Cavitation during the outstroke and partial full film lubrication during the instroke tend to prevent net leakage. The behavior of a reciprocating hydraulic rod seal with a double lip or two seals in tandem arrangement can be very different from that of a similar seal with a single lip. For the double lip seal, the secondary lip can strongly affect the behavior of the primary lip by producing an elevated pressure in the interlip region. The same seal characteristics that promote effective sealing in a single lip seal and, in addition structural decoupling of multiple lips, are found to promote effective sealing in a multiple lip seal. The model is validated through comparisons of model predictions with experimental measurements and observations by industry partners. The results have shown the predicted leakage and friction force for various seal and operation conditions are consistent with the measurements. A seal with micro-pattern on the sealing surface also has been investigated. The results indicate that an elaborately designed pattern can improve the sealing characteristics of the seal, without significantly affecting the friction force. In the end, the selection of the rod seal for a specific application using this analytical model is demonstrated. The best design can be picked up before a prototype being built.