Vibration dampers have been invented that are incorporated as components within the stationary labyrinth seal assembly. These dampers are intended to supplement other vibration-suppressing features of labyrinth seals in order to reduce the incidence of high-cycle-fatigue failures, which have been known to occur in the severe vibratory environments of jet engines and turbopumps in which labyrinth seals are typically used. A vibration damper of this type includes several leaf springs and/or a number of metallic particles (shot) all held in an annular seal cavity by a retaining ring. The leaf springs are made of a spring steel alloy chosen, in conjunction with design parameters, to maintain sufficient preload to ensure effectiveness of damping at desired operating temperatures. The cavity is vented via a small radial gap between the retaining ring and seal housing. The damping mechanism is complex. In the case of leaf springs, the mechanism is mainly friction in the slippage between the seal housing and individual dampers. In the case of a damper that contains shot, the damping mechanism includes contributions from friction between individual particles, friction between particles and cavity walls, and dissipation of kinetic energy of impact.

The basic concept of particle/shot vibration dampers has been published previously; what is new here is the use of such dampers to suppress traveling-wave vibrations in labyrinth seals. Damping effectiveness depends on many parameters, including, but not limited to, coefficient of friction, mode shape, and frequency and amplitude of vibrational modes. In tests, preloads of the order of 6 to 15 lb (2.72 to 6.8 kg) per spring damper were demonstrated to provide adequate damping levels. Effectiveness of shot damping of vibrations having amplitudes from 20 to 200 times normal terrestrial gravitational acceleration (196 to 1,960 m/s2) and frequencies up to 12 kHz was demonstrated for shot sizes from 0.032 to 0.062 in. (0.8 to 1.6 mm) at fill levels of from 70 to 95 percent.

This work was done by Yehia El-Aini, William Mitchell, Lawrence Roberts, Stuart Montgomery, and Gary Davis of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne for Marshall Space Flight Center. For more information, contact Sammy Nabors, MSFC Commercialization Assistance Lead, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Title to this invention has been waived under the provisions of the National Aeronautics and Space Act {42 U.S.C. 2457(f)} to Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. Inquiries concerning licenses for its commercial development should be addressed to

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne
P.O. Box 109600 West Palm Beach, FL 33410

Refer to MFS-32571-1, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.