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Title:
SEALING ARRANGEMENT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/132666
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A sealing arrangement for a sliding vane machine for compressing or expanding a fluid, for sealing between a rotating plane surface on a rotor and a machine housing to prevent flow of process fluid between an internal volume to an external volume of said vane machine a seal pocket located at a housing end and said seal pocket opens towards the direction of the external volume and the internal volume, - an assembly arranged for mounting in said seal pocket, said assembly comprising: - a piston arrangement, - a sealing bearing ring between said piston arrangement and said plane surface, - a fluid supply line for a pressurized lubrication fluid through said housing to a piston cavity, said piston arrangement further having piston fluid channels and said bearing sealing ring having lubrication conduits through said bearing seal ring, corresponding with said piston fluid channels, - said pressurized lubrication fluid arranged for moving said piston against said sealing bearing ring and thus moving said sealing bearing ring against said sealing surface thus forming a sealing arrangement.

Inventors:
HØEG, Arne (Fjelkensvingen 21, 1395 Hvalstad, 1395, NO)
Application Number:
NO2018/050320
Publication Date:
July 04, 2019
Filing Date:
December 19, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TOCIRCLE INDUSTRIES AS (Postboks 1462 Vika, 0116 Oslo, 0116, NO)
International Classes:
F04C27/00; F04C18/344; F16J15/34
Domestic Patent References:
WO2012036684A12012-03-22
Foreign References:
US20150300352A12015-10-22
EP0961059A11999-12-01
US20070296156A12007-12-27
EP2891836A12015-07-08
US3130673A1964-04-28
US6273694B12001-08-14
US3964844A1976-06-22
US3751045A1973-08-07
DE4221199A11993-02-04
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ACAPO AS (P.O. Box 27, 1629 Gamle Fredrikstad, 1629, NO)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A sealing arrangement for a sliding vane machine for compressing or expanding a fluid, for sealing between a rotating plane surface (la) on a rotor (1) and a machine housing (2) to prevent flow of process fluid (F) between an internal volume (10) to an external volume (13) of said vane machine, wherein :

- said housing (2) comprising a seal pocket (P) located at a housing end (20) and said seal pocket (P) opens towards the direction of said external volume (13) and said internal volume (10),

- a sealing assembly (3) arranged for mounting in said seal pocket (P), said sealing assembly (3) comprising :

- a piston arrangement (5, 5'), and

- a sealing bearing ring (4) between said piston arrangement (5, 5') and said plane surface (la);

- a fluid supply line (12) for a pressurized lubrication fluid (LF) through said housing (2) to a piston cavity (6c), said piston arrangement (5, 5') further having piston fluid channels (5b) and said bearing sealing ring (4) having lubrication conduits (4d) through said bearing seal ring (4) corresponding with said piston fluid channels (5b),

- said pressurized lubrication fluid (LF) arranged for moving and forcing said piston (5,

5') against said sealing bearing ring (4) and thus moving and forcing said sealing bearing ring (4) against said sealing surface (la).

2. The sealing arrangement according to claim 1 further comprising

- wherein said piston arrangement (5, 5') is accommodated in one or more corresponding said piston cavities (6c), said piston cavity (6c) arranged in an inner portion of said pocket (P).

3. The sealing arrangement according to claim 2 further comprising

- wherein said piston cavities (6c) are arranged in a wall in said pocket (P) in said housing (2).

4. The sealing arrangement according to claim 1 further comprising

- a piston housing ring (6) arranged between said sealing bearing ring (4) and housing (2) and accommodating one or more of said piston cavities (6d) for said piston

arrangement (5, 5'), said piston housing ring (6) further comprises channels (6a) through said one or more piston cavities (6d).

5. The sealing arrangement according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said piston arrangement (5, 5') being an annular piston ring (5).

6. The sealing arrangement according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said piston arrangement (5, 5') being a plurality of pistons (5').

7. The sealing arrangement according to any of the claims 4 - 6, further comprising

- a water distance ring (8) arranged between said piston housing ring (6) and said housing (2), said water distance ring (8) having one or more lubrication fluid conduits (8a).

8. The sealing arrangement according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising

- a retaining and guide ring (7) with a guide ring surface (7a), said retaining and guide ring (7) is facing towards said piston housing ring (6) and said retaining and guide ring (7) is arranged onto said piston housing ring (6) in an outer circumferential portion of said bearing ring (6).

9. The sealing arrangement according to claim 8 further comprising

- said retaining and guide ring (7) is facing towards said piston housing ring (6), said retaining and guide ring (7) is arranged onto said piston housing ring (6) in an outer circumferential portion of said housing ring (6) and coaxially arranged onto an outer circumference of said sealing bearing ring (4).

10. The sealing arrangement according to any of claims 4 -8, further comprising a guiding and fixation arrangement wherein

- said sealing ring (4) having a shoulder (4s) protruding in an outward radial direction to interact with a corresponding inward directed protruding shoulder (7s) on said guiding and fixation ring (7), and further said housing ring (6) has a recess in a radial direction for restraining said guiding and fixation ring (7).

11. The sealing arrangement according to claim 8 further comprising

- fastening means (FM) arranged in said guiding and fixation ring (7) for securing said piston housing (6) and securing and guiding said sealing ring (4), wherein said fastening means (B, T) comprise of,

- through bolts (B), said through bolts fixed and threaded into housing (2), wherein said water distance ring (8), said piston housing ring (6) and said guiding and fixation ring (7) having through holes that correspond with said through bolts (B) and or, - threads (T), wherein said threads (T) are formed on an outer circumferential surface of said fixation ring (7) that mesh and engage with threads that are formed on an inner circumferential surface of said housing (2).

12. The sealing arrangement according to any of the preceding claims wherein flow restriction of the bearing fluid channel (5b) at least in part is provided by flow restrictors (5a).

13. The sealing arrangement of claim 12, wherein said restrictor (5a) is placed in said bearing fluid channels (5b) in said pistons (5, 5') to limit the fluid flow to the

corresponding lubrication conduits (4d).

14. A sealing method for a sliding vane machine for sealing between a rotating plane surface (la) on a rotor (1) and a machine housing (2) to prevent flow of process fluid (F) between an internal volume (10) to an external volume (13) of said vane machine, said housing (2) comprising a seal pocket (P) located at a housing end (20) and said seal pocket (P) opens towards the direction of the external volume (13) and the internal volume (10), comprising the steps of;

-mounting an assembly (3) in said seal pocket (P), by arranging sealing bearing ring (4) between a piston arrangement (5, 5') and said plane surface (la),

- supply a fluid through a supply line (12) for a pressurized lubrication fluid (LF) through said housing (2) to a piston cavity (6c), and to fluid channels (5b) in said piston arrangement (5, 5'),

and further to lubrication conduits (4d) through said bearing seal ring (4), corresponding with said piston fluid channels (5b),

- pressurize said lubrication fluid (LF) thus

- forcing said piston (5, 5') against said sealing bearing ring (4) and thus

- forcing said sealing bearing ring (4) against said sealing surface (la) and thus sealing between said rotating plane surface (la) on said rotor (1) and said machine housing (2).

Description:
SEALING ARRANGEMENT

Field of the invention

[0001] The present invention relates to the technical field of sealing. More specifically it relates to a sealing arrangement for sliding vane machines used as compressors, expanders or pumps.

Background art

[0002] Sliding vane machines comprise of a rotor, typically placed eccentrically in a cylindrical housing, with a plurality of vanes that are suspended in the rotor and which follow the inner wall in the cylindrical housing. Sliding vane machines are used for fluid processing and usually comprise a housing with an internal wall forming a cavity with an inlet for supplying process fluid and an outlet for delivering process fluid; a rotor located in the cavity, wherein a distance between an outer face of the rotor and the internal wall of the housing varies in the rotational direction; and vanes slidable in outwardly directed slots in the rotor, for, during the rotation, sliding relative to the rotor to extend between the outer face of the rotor and the internal wall of the housing. Closed or confined spaces are defined between the vanes, the outer face of the rotor and the internal wall of the housing. Since the distance between the outer face of the rotor and the wall varies in the rotational direction, the volumes of the closed or confined spaces also vary in the rotational direction. During operation, these confined spaces are filled with process fluid, and the variation of their volumes causes a varying flow of process fluid around the rotor. The location and shape of the inlet and outlet are adapted to provide a flow of process fluid from the inlet to the outlet.

[0003] The variable distance between the outer face of the rotor and the internal wall of the housing can be achieved by both the cavity and the rotor being cylindrical, and the rotor eccentrically mounted in the cavity. Alternatively, the cavity may have other shapes, e.g. oval. The ends of the cavity are closed by end caps attached to the housing. The rotor and the vanes extend throughout the cavity in an axial-parallel direction.

[0004] The rotor may be driven by an external driver. The rotor then drives the vanes, and the vanes move the process fluid. In this case, the rotary vane machine works as a pump if the process fluid is a liquid, and as a compressor if the process fluid is a gas or 2-phase fluid, i.e. a mixture of liquid and gas. In other uses, the process fluid may drive the vanes and thereby the rotor, which can do external work. In this case, the rotary vane machine works as a hydro-motor if the process fluid is a liquid, and as an expander if the process fluid is a gas or 2-phase fluid. [0005] Some examples of the prior art can be found in US3130673 A and US6273694B1.

[0006] US 3130673 A describes a rotary vane pump in which the vanes slide freely in their slots, and thereby during rotation bear against the internal wall of the rotor due to the centrifugal force. In addition, the pressure in the pump acts on the inner side of the vanes and force them towards the internal wall.

[0007] US6273694B1 describes a rotary-piston machine comprising a housing having a cavity, a rotor received in the housing, which rotor having a rotor axis and a peripheral surface, inlet and outlet passages in communication with said cavity, one or more vanes radially slidably received in slots in the rotor, each vane extending radially from the internal surface of the housing to the rotor axis, and at least one working chamber being part of the cavity and is defined by the internal surface of the housing, the peripheral surface of the rotor and the side surface of at least one vane. Each vane is articulated connected about an axis to one end of a control arm and is in the other end pivotably journaled in a fixed axle shaft having a central axis being coincident with the axis extending centrally through the cavity of the housing, which axis extend in parallel with and spaced from the rotor axis, and the rotor proper constitute the unit for power take off or power input.

[0008] For all rotary sliding vane machines, the pressure varies from the inlet to the outlet. Consequently, there are varying differential pressures across the vanes, which causes varying tangential forces acting on the vanes. Normally, there is also a change of direction of the tangential forces during the rotation.

[0009] The plane surfaces in the end of the chamber will, if they are part of the rotor, rotate in relationship to the housing, and if they are part of the housing, the rotor will rotate with respect to the surfaces. The interface between these two components needs to be sealed against leakage of process fluid. Depending on the requirements for the actual use of the rotary sliding vane machine, sealings may be provided both at the outer edges of the vanes, at the sides of the vanes and at the sides of the rotor. There exist several different types of solutions for plane seals, with rotation and pressure on one side. For example, water lubricated sealing rings are used on plane shaft seals in conjunction with water turbines. There also exist plane seals that are based on labyrinth seals in graphite, which rotate and are in contact with polished steel sealing surfaces with or without water lubrication.

[0010] US3964844A shows a hydrostatic means for automatically maintaining a substantially constant clearance between the side plates of a vane pump and the adjacent surfaces of the pump rotor and cam ring. This is accomplished by pressure loading of the plates in combination with hydrostatic bearing pockets on the inner sides of the plates next to the rotor and cam ring that are connected to the pump high pressure chamber by restricted passages.

[0011] US3751045A describes a leakoff seal wherein an axially movable seal member is mounted within the housing and kept slightly separated from another movable seal member so as to maintain a slight gap between the two seal members. The axially movable seal member is provided with a mating face and a rear face. The balance of pressure forces acting on the mating face and the rear face of the sealing ring keeps a positive clearance between collar and sealing ring.

[0012] WO2012036684A describes a sealing system including divergent flow grooves which separate fluid, originating from a high-pressure region, communicated onto each apex along the divergent flow grooves so as to produce a balanced pressure profile radially widthwise across a piston ring disposed between concentric, rotatable inner and outer shafts.

[0013] DE4221199A1 shows a sealing system for an internal axis rotary piston engine. The outer surface of a sealing ring is pressed against a housing. The side surfaces of the sealing ring are held contact-free at a sealing gap distance from the groove walls such that a minimum width of the sealing gaps is ensured mechanically by the guide surfaces.

[0014] JPS6165084A shows a static thrust bearing in a scroll compressor wherein the clearance between the static pressure bearing part and the back surface of the scroll compressor is held to an almost fixed value in no relation to a thrust load, enabling the scroll compressor to be supported in a suitable condition. High pressure oil, separated in a delivery line is supplied to a static pressure thrust bearing, positioned in a back surface of the scroll compressor, through a throttle.

[0015] JPS5710790 describes a moveable element that is inserted between a vane and a side plate. When the vane travels in the rotational direction, pressure in the vane chamber at the side of high pressure is acted upon the back-side part of the movable element, to apply a force to the movable element. While a power step bearing is formed between the movable element and the side plate, and positive pressure is generated by shearing force due to a wedge oil film to apply a force to the movable element. In this way, a clearance between the movable element and the side plate can always be maintained to a constant value despite the thermal expansion of the vane.

[0016] Prior art solutions using a hydrostatic lubricant film as a barrier against leakage, as described in US3964844A may have almost zero leakage rate, but require a steady flow of lubricant to both sides of the seal, to avoid a temperature rise. In order for the seal to function properly, the hydraulic pressure between the seal and the sealing surface must be higher than the pressure in the process fluid which is to be sealed from leaking. Otherwise, the process fluid might press the lubricant out of the gap between the seal and the sealing surface, with two undesired consequences consisting of leakage and dry running of the seal. The gap between the seal and the sealing surface in a hydrostatic seal is typically smaller than normal machining tolerances and movement between the parts during operation, so that the seal needs to be pressed towards the sealing surface by a given force. This force needs to be equal to the desired film pressure times the effective bearing area of the seal. Even though hydrostatic bearings and seals are characterized by low friction, the force needed to seal a large seal with a large effective area, can lead to friction which may be a significant proportion of the mechanical power of the machine. If a seal with a 250 mm radius with an effective area of 30 000 mm 2 is to seal against a process pressure of 2 MPa, the force on the seal needs to be larger than 60 kN. Even with a very low coefficient of friction of 0.005, this seal would result in a friction force of 300 N. If the relative velocity of the seal is 30 m/s, this kind of friction would result in a power consumption of 9 kW per seal. A seal friction of this order may be insignificant in a large hydro turbine, but may be significant in a compressor or an expander.

[0017] Prior art solutions of the labyrinth type, like the one described in US3751045A, will typically have low friction, but the leakage rate will be highly dependent on the width of the gap between the parts to be sealed. In large rotary vane machines, the surfaces may move due to pressure distribution, thermal expansion and deformation due to the normal loading of the machine. A labyrinth type seal against gaseous media, like high- pressure steam or air, needs a very tight gap in order to seal satisfactory.

[0018] Prior art solutions depending on mechanical seals, tend to have high friction and high wear rate at process pressures in excess of 0.5 MPa and relative speeds in excess of 10 m/s.

[0019] Another prior art solution is diagonally braided fibre gaskets, typically made from graphite and/or other fibres, installed in grooves and pressed against a sealing surface. One example of this type is the gasket Buraflex HT 2000 from Eagle Burgmann. This type of seal is recommended for conditions typically present in steam expanders, and relatively high velocities in the region of 30 m/s. However, this type of seal is sensitive to pressure fluctuations and changes in seal gap, and it is difficult to obtain low leakage rates and low friction simultaneously. In testing, this type of seal in a steam compressor has revealed that the service life of the seals has been unpredictable.

[0020] Prior art solutions are typically designed for symmetric load around the symmetry axis, that is a uniform fluid pressure around the perimeter of the seal. If the fluid pressure in the machine varies with the angular position and time, for example in a rotary vane compressor or expander, the resulting force from the pressure on a seal will have a resultant force in the radial direction, which will result in a load on the

components of the seal. None of the prior art solutions specifically target the addressed issue of radial forces.

[0021] The present invention is a solution to the sealing problem of rotary vane machines, in that it provides a labyrinth type seal function, controlled by hydrostatic bearing pads, and that it provides solutions to the problems of unevenly distributed radial pressure forces and friction.

[0022] In studying the prior art sealing solutions, the main disadvantage of the commercially available seals that have been found, is that the seals are not developed for the mentioned conditions in rotary vane machines.

[0023] Many of the prior art sealing solutions depend on initial wear-in, wherein material deposits from the seal onto the sealing surface, improves the sealing

performance and reduces the wear rate. In applications where the sealing surface have an eccentric motion relative to the seal, this wear-in and subsequent reduction in wear rate does not occur, or occurs to a lesser extent.

Short summary of the invention

[0024] A main object of the present invention is to disclose a sealing arrangement that solves the problems of the prior art sealing arrangements.

[0025] The invention is a method of sealing and a sealing arrangement for a sliding vane machine for compressing or expanding a fluid, for sealing between a rotating plane surface on a rotor and a machine housing to prevent flow of process fluid between an internal volume to an external volume of said vane machine comprising :

- said housing comprising a seal pocket located at a housing end and said seal pocket opens towards the direction of the external volume and the internal volume,

- an assembly arranged for mounting in said seal pocket, said assembly comprising :

- a piston arrangement,

- a sealing bearing ring between said piston arrangement and said plane surface,

- a fluid supply line for a pressurized lubrication fluid through said housing to a piston cavity, said piston arrangement further having piston fluid channels and said bearing sealing ring having lubrication conduits through said bearing seal ring, corresponding with said piston fluid channels,

- said pressurized lubrication fluid arranged for moving said piston towards and against said sealing bearing ring and thus moving said sealing bearing ring towards and against said sealing surface thus forming a sealing arrangement.

The invention solves the disadvantages with prior art solutions, by establishing a sealing gap with tightly controlled gap distance, regardless of eccentric and even axial movement of the sealing surface, that has a predictable leakage rate, no friction, and no wear of the seal or the sealing surface.

Short figure captions

The attached drawing figures illustrate some embodiments of the claimed invention.

Fig. 1 illustrates a partially sectioned perspective view of a rotary vane compressor wherin is shown one visible sealing unit according to the invention.

Fig. 2 is a cross sectional view axially through of a rotor which is eccentrically arranged in a housing, with two sealing units according to an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 3 is a detailed cross-sectional view of the sealing unit according to an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 4 is a plan view of part of the sealing surface according to an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 5 shows a typical pressure distribution along the perimeter of the housing of a rotary vane compressor.

Fig. 6 shows a detailed cross-sectional view of the sealing unit as another embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 7 is a cross-sectional view of yet another embodiment of the sealing unit according to the invention.

Fig. 8 is another embodiment of the sealing unit according to the invention.

Fig. 9 is another embodiment of the sealing unit according to the invention.

Detailed description of the figures and embodiments of the invention

[0026] The invention will in the following be described and embodiments of the invention will be explained with reference to the accompanying drawings.

[0027] The invention is a sealing arrangement for a sliding vane machine for

compressing or expanding a fluid, for sealing between a rotating plane surface (la) on a rotor (1) and a machine housing (2) to prevent flow of process fluid (F) between an internal volume (10) to an external volume (13) of said vane machine comprising :

- said housing (2) comprising a seal pocket (P) located at a housing end (20), said seal pocket (P) having an aperture towards the direction of said external volume (13) and said internal volume (10),

- an assembly (3) arranged for mounting in said seal pocket (P), said assembly (3) comprising :

- a piston arrangement (5, 5'), and

- a sealing bearing ring (4) between said piston arrangement (5, 5') and said plane surface (la),;

- a fluid supply line (12) for a pressurized lubrication fluid (LF) through said housing (2) to a piston cavity (6c), said piston arrangement (5, 5') further having piston fluid channels (5b) and said bearing sealing ring (4) having lubrication conduits (4d) through said bearing seal ring (4), corresponding with said piston fluid channels (5b),

- said pressurized lubrication fluid (LF) arranged for moving said piston (5, 5') against said sealing bearing ring (4) and thus moving / forcing said sealing bearing ring (4) towards and against said sealing surface (la) thus forming a sealing arrangement.

[0028] The sealing arrangement (3) is depicted in a cross-sectional view in Fig. 7. The embodiment shows a piston arrangement (5, 5') placed in a pocket (P) that is a recess in the housing (2). This recess or pocket (P) can be manufactured by turning or machining a recess in the housing (2). The pressurized lubrication fluid flows through a conduit (12) via a pump (not shown) to the piston arrangements (5,5') cavity (6c). The piston arrangement (5, 5') acts against the sealing bearing ring (4) which in turn acts against the plane surface (lb). At the same time, the pressurized lubrication fluid (LF) will flow throw the piston fluid channels (5 b). These channels (5b) are in fluid connection with the lubrication conduits (4d) of the bearing sealing ring (4). For sealing of the pressurized fluid, O-rings (O) or equivalent can be used around the piston arrangement (5, 5'), between the piston arrangement (5, 5') and bearing sealing ring (4) and radially between the piston arrangement (5, 5') and bearing sealing ring (4).

[0029] The invention solves the disadvantages with prior art solutions, by establishing a sealing gap with tightly controlled gap distance, regardless of eccentric and even axial movement of the sealing surface, that has a predictable leakage rate, no friction, and no wear of the seal or the sealing surface. The invention provides a balanced seal, wherein the local process fluid acts (with pressure), on both the effective area of a sealing lip and on a similar pressure area in connection with the process chamber, so that the seal is unaffected by uneven pressure distribution and varying local pressure. The invention also provides a sealing solution with low friction, as the gap distance is controlled by hydrostatic bearings, that only need a small preloading to maintain a predictable lubrication film. As the load on the seal from the process fluid pressure is nearly or for the most part balanced, the necessary loading of the bearings is low, and the resulting friction is also low.

[0030] In an embodiment of the invention the piston arrangement (5, 5') is

accommodated in one or more corresponding piston cavities (6c), wherein the piston cavity (6c) is arranged in an inner portion of the pocket (P).

[0031] In an embodiment of the invention the piston cavities (6c) are arranged in a wall (W) in the pocket (P) in the housing (2). This wall (W) is depicted in Fig. 8. This is beneficial due to an improved sealing of the piston arrangement (5, 5'). Sealing of a pressurized fluid is a lot easier to accommodate in a discrete cavity in a wall. O-rings or similar may be used for this purpose.

[0032] According to an embodiment of the invention a piston housing ring (6) is arranged between the sealing bearing ring (4) and housing (2) and accommodates one or more piston cavities (6d) for the piston arrangement (5, 5'), the piston housing ring (6) further comprises channels (6a) through one or more piston cavities (6d). Figures 3,

6 and 9 all depict a piston housing ring (6) arranged in such a manner. An advantage by utilizing a separate piston housing ring (6) in between the housing (2) and the sealing bearing ring (4) is that it is easier to obtain the required machining tolerances and final fitting tolerances within the seal assembly. The pocket (P) is a simple machined recess.

[0033] Fig. 1 shows a partially sectioned rotary vane compressor. A rotor (1) is eccentrically mounted in a housing (2) so that a cavity is formed between the inner surface of the housing, a surface (lb) of the rotor and two sealing surfaces (la) (only one shown). A number of vanes (11) are slidably mounted in the rotor (1), so that the vanes (11) follow the inner surface of the housing (2). The cavity is divided into compression chambers, and the volume of said chambers vary as the rotor (1) is rotated. The change in volume leads to a change in pressure of the medium inside the chambers. A sealing arrangement (3) according to an embodiment of the invention, is shown, mounted in the housing (2), comprising of a seal ring (4), a piston housing (6), a retaining & guide ring (7) and a water distribution ring (8).

[0034] Fig. 2 illustrates an embodiment of the invention wherein the assembly comprises more components, and shows a cross section through the rotor (1) inside the housing (2), and two sealing arrangements (3) according to the invention. The figure shows the eccentric rotor axis (lc) relative to the housing (2), that makes the distance between the inner surface of the housing (2), and the surface (lb) of the rotor (1), vary with the position (angular rotation). The figure also shows how the sealing surfaces (la) of the rotor (1) has an eccentric movement relative to the sealing arrangements.

Lubrication for the sealing arrangements is provided through the housing (2) to the seal arrangements through a supply line (12) in the housing. The distribution of the lubrication through the supply line (12) may be constituted as holes, channels, hoses or similar. Supply of lubrication may be via a pump 14 (not shown) that is connected to the supply line (12). This auxiliary pump may be mounted on the housing itself or located in an easy maintainable location somewhere near the unit for easy access.

[0035] Fig. 3 is a detailed view of the cross section through the sealing arrangement (3), showing the sealing arrangement (3) placed in the housing (2), and seal ring (4) facing towards the plane, rotating, sealing surface (la) of the rotor (1). The sealing arrangement (3) prevents flow of process fluid between an internal volume (10) to an outside volume (13). The seal arrangement (3) comprises a seal ring (4) that is located between a piston housing (6) and a retaining & guide ring (7). The seal ring (4) is pressed towards and against the sealing surface (la) of the rotor (1) by a plurality of pistons (5), inserted in the piston housing (6). An optional fluid / water distribution ring (8) is shown between the housing (2) and the piston housing (6). The function of said water distribution ring (8) may, in an embodiment, be integrated in or form part of the housing (2). In an embodiment the features and functions of the piston housing (6) can also be integrated in or form part of the housing (2). Lubricant is supplied to the seal arrangement (3) from the water distribution ring (8), through a channel (6a) in the piston housing (6), via apertures / holes (6b) to one or more cylinder volumes (9). From the cylinder volumes (9), the lubricant flows through restrictors (5a) in the pistons (5) and channels (4d) to hydrostatic bearing surfaces (4b). Optional recesses (4c) in the bearing surfaces increase the effective area of the bearing surfaces. When lubricant is provided at a supply pressure higher than the pressure of the outside volume (13), the supply pressure will act on the pistons (5), and exert a force on the pistons (5). As the flow of the lubricant is restricted by the restrictors (5a), the lubricant pressure between the bearing surface (4b) and the sealing surface (la) will be lower than the supply pressure, which requires that the effective area of bearing surface 4b is greater than the area of piston 5 exposed to supply pressure. The distance between the bearing surface (4b) and the sealing surface (la) will determine the rate of the flow from the recess (4c) to the outside volume (13), and the flow rate will determine the pressure difference across the restrictor (5a). When the distance is small (for example 4 pm) the pressure difference will be low, and the pressure between the bearing surfaces (4b) and the sealing surface (la) will be high. The sealing arrangement (3) thereby acts as a hydrostatic bearing, which are hence self-adjusting, and will maintain a more or less constant distance between the bearings (4b) and the sealing surface (la), typically 4 to 20 pm with water as a lubricant. The seal ring (4) has a seal lip (4a), that will be kept at a constant distance from the sealing surface (la), and said distance may or may not be the same as the distance between the bearing surfaces and the sealing surface. The small distance between the seal lip and the sealing surface, will result in a small but predictable leakage from the internal volume (10) to outside volume (13). The seal ring (4) can move in the axial direction, limited by the retaining 8i guide ring (7), and to a smaller degree in the radial direction, limited by a sliding surface (7a) of the retaining 8i guide ring (7). An O-ring placed in a groove (4e) as part of the seal ring (4), prevents leakage between the seal ring (4) and the piston housing (6), from the internal volume (10) to volume (11). A small area (4f) is provided between the seal ring and the piston housing, wherein the pressure of the internal volume (10) acts on the area (4f) to press the seal ring towards and against the sealing surface. The pressure distribution between the seal lip (4a) and the sealing surface will act on the area (4a) to press the seal ring away from the sealing surface. The areas (4a) and (4f) may be chosen to balance the pressure forces from the medium in the internal volume (10), so that the load on the bearing surfaces is mainly dependent on the supply pressure and the piston area. The contact surface (7a) between the seal ring (4) and the guide ring (7), may be designed so that the contact area is centrically placed relative to the pressure area between the groove (4e) and the sealing surface. The function of the restrictor (5a) may in an embodiment be obtained by distinct restrictors in the channel (4d), a reduced flow cross section in the pistons (5) or the seal ring (4), or even by the geometry of the recess (4c).

[0036] Fig. 4 is a plan view of a portion of the seal ring (4). This view is seen from the outer volume (13) and facing the compressor housing (2). The bearings provide an almost constant, small, distance between the sealing lip/rim and a (rotating) plane sealing surface of a rotor (1). The hydrostatic bearings are self-adjusting and self- balancing, and will follow the sealing surface when the sealing surface is non-planar or experience throw-out (imbalance or warpage) due to production tolerances or thermal expansion. The sealing can even tolerate small axial movements of the sealing surface. The figure shows the sealing lip (4a), a number of hydrostatic bearing pads (4b) with optional recesses (4c) and channels (4d) with restrictors (5a). The bearing pads may be designed in a number of different ways. Drain grooves (4g) separate the bearing pads and the sealing lip from the bearing pads (4b). The drain grooves (4g) ensure that lubricant may exit the bearing pads (4b), and process fluid leaking across the sealing lip, are drained to the external volume (13), with only a negligible pressure build-up outside the sealing lip or rim. The figure also shows that the sealing lip/rim is the only sealing feature of the surface.

[0037] Fig. 5 shows a typical pressure distribution along the perimeter of the housing (2) of a rotary vane compressor. The x-axis shows the rotational angle (in degrees) and the y-axis shows the internal pressure of the compressor. In the upper left-hand portion of Fig. 5 a simplified view is depicted, the compressor rotor eccentrically placed within the compressor housing (2), with high pressure (HP) discharge and low pressure (LP) inlet. At any point along the perimeter, the pressure may vary between the minimum pressure graph and the maximum pressure graph, depending on the rotor position. The process pressure that acts on the primary sealing arrangement varies both with angular position and over time. In reality, the pressure transients will in general be more

"lenient" than what the calculations show. Nonetheless it is shown very large pressure fluctuations where the pressure changes between min to max may occur in 40 - 400 micro seconds. In a rotary vane compressor, the inlet area for the process fluid is typically a third of the perimeter. In this area, the fluid pressure is generally low and constant, close to the inlet pressure. The process fluid is compressed during about a third of the revolution, and in this area, the fluid pressure may vary between the lowest and the highest fluid pressure in the compressor, according to the vanes' positions. As can be seen from Fig. 5, the pressure variation is not necessarily the same in all positions. Near the exit (here: discharge), the fluid pressure is always high, though in some cases, the pressure may even be higher than the exit pressure, due to operating conditions, in a smaller area, part of the time. This leads to several challenges for a sealing solution:

- The seal will experience low fluid pressure in some areas and high fluid pressure in other areas while large portions of the seal being exposed towards a variable (at a high frequency) oscillating fluid pressure.

- Stringent requirements are placed upon a seal that shall function at different conditions and be able to tolerate transients.

- Mechanical seals require a large contact force to seal against high pressures, but will wear out (degrade) at a fast rate if they are exposed to a high contact force at low pressures.

[0038] Fig. 6 is a detailed view of the cross section through the seal arrangement (3), showing the seal arrangement (3) placed in the housing (2), and seal ring (4) facing towards the plane sealing surface (la) of the rotor (1). This embodiment is the same configuration as Fig. 3 in components, but the assembly is a mirrored version of Fig. 3. The seal assembly could be held axially in place by means of an annular and coaxial plate (not shown) that is threaded or bolted into the outer portion of the compressor housing (2). Said plate could be sealed against the housing (2) and or water distance ring (8) by means of an O-ring, gasket or similar sealing means.

[0039] In an embodiment of the invention the piston arrangement (5, 5') is an annular piston ring (5). An advantage by utilizing a separate annular piston ring is that it may be machined as a separate annular part

[0040] In one embodiment of the invention the piston arrangement (5, 5') comprises of a plurality of pistons (5'). Using a plurality of pistons (5') increases the functionality and repeatability of regulating and controlling a correct and uniform pressure on the sealing bearing ring (4). There is lower probability of the pistons (5') getting pinched or stuck during operation verses a solid annular ring solution. [0041] The invention comprises in an embodiment a water distance ring (8) is arranged between the piston housing ring (6) and housing (2), where the water distance ring (8) has one or more lubrication fluid conduits (8a). This is an advantage since a water distance ring (8) can be separately fabricated from a circular plate that is simple to machine and O-ring grooves are simple to form in this configuration. This water distance ring (8) is depicted in Figs. 3 and 6. Sealing between the water distance ring (8), housing (2) and piston housing ring (6) can be performed using O-rings or similar sealing units.

[0042] In an embodiment of the invention a retaining and guide ring (7) with a guide ring surface (7a), where the retaining and guide ring (7) is facing towards the piston housing ring (6). The retaining and guide ring (7) is arranged onto the piston housing ring (6) in an outer circumferential portion of the bearing ring (6).

[0043] In an embodiment of the invention the retaining and guide ring (7) is facing towards the piston housing ring (6), the retaining and guide ring (7) is arranged onto the piston housing ring (6) in an outer circumferential portion of the housing ring (6) and coaxially arranged onto an outer circumference of the sealing bearing ring (4).

[0044] In another embodiment of the invention the sealing ring (4) has a shoulder (4s) protruding in an outward radial direction to interact with a corresponding inward directed protruding shoulder (7s) on the guiding and fixation ring (7). Further the housing ring (6) has a recess in a radial direction for restraining the guiding and fixation ring (7). An advantage for this arrangement is for securing and guiding the sealing ring (4) in both the radial and axial direction. This configuration is shown in Fig. 3.

[0045] In another embodiment of the invention there are provided fastening means (FM) arranged in the guiding and fixation ring (7) for securing of the piston housing (6) and securing and guiding the sealing ring (4). This configuration is shown in Fig. 3. The fastening means may comprise of standard threaded through bolts (B) where the through bolts (B) are fixed and threaded into the housing (2). The water distance ring (8), piston housing ring (6) and guiding and fixation ring (7) have through holes that are coaxial and correspond and line up with the through bolts (B). A second type of fastening means for fixation may be by way of threads (T), where the threads (T) are formed on an outer circumferential surface of the fixation ring (7) that mesh and engage with threads that are formed on an inner circumferential surface of the housing (2). The threads (T) on the housing (2) and the fixation ring (2) are coaxial with the axis (lc). The threads (T) are not depicted on Fig. 3 but a person skilled in the art may fully understand the concept of threaded connections. An advantage of using through bolts (B) or threads (T) is the ease and simplicity of holding the guiding and fixation ring (7) in place.

[0046] In another embodiment of the invention the flow restriction of the bearing fluid channel is at least in part is provided by discrete/distinct flow restrictions. This is depicted in Fig. 3. These flow restrictions may be formed by a restrictor (5a) that is placed in the bearing fluid channels (5b) in the pistons (5, 5') to limit the fluid flow to the corresponding lubrication conduits (4d). An advantage of using flow restrictors is that it may be possible to avoid supplying too much lubrication fluid to the sealing arrangement. Using predefined flow-analysis and calculations it is possible to predict the necessary amount of fluid that is required to obtain a correct rate of flow.

[0047] The invention is also a sealing method for a sliding vane machine for sealing between a rotating plane surface (la) on a rotor (1) and a machine housing (2) to prevent flow of process fluid (F) between an internal volume (10) to an external volume (13) of said vane machine, said housing (2) comprising a seal pocket (P) located at a housing end (20) and said seal pocket (P) opens towards the direction of the external volume (13) and the internal volume (10), comprising the following;

-mounting an assembly (3) in said seal pocket (P), by arranging sealing bearing ring (4) between a piston arrangement (5, 5') and said plane surface (lb),

- supply a fluid through a supply line (12) for a pressurized lubrication fluid (LF) through said housing (2) to a piston cavity (6c), and to fluid channels (5b) in said piston arrangement (5, 5')

and further to lubrication conduits (4d) through said bearing seal ring (4), corresponding with said piston fluid channels (5b),

- pressurize said lubrication fluid (LF) thus

- moving or forcing said piston (5, 5') towards and against said sealing bearing ring (4) and thus

- moving or forcing said sealing bearing ring (4) towards and against said sealing surface (la) and thus sealing between said rotating plane surface (la) on said rotor (1) and said machine housing (2).