Optimization of seal geometries can reduce significantly the energetic losses in a hydraulic seal , especially for high head runner turbine. In the optimization process, a reliable prediction of the losses is needed and CFD is often used. This paper presents numerical experiments to determine an adequate CFD model for straight, labyrinth and stepped hydraulic seals used in Francis runners. The computation is performed with a finite volume commercial CFD code with a RANS low Reynolds turbulence model. As numerical computations in small radial clearances of hydraulic seals are not often encountered in the literature, the numerical results are validated with experimental data on straight seals and labyrinth seals. As the validation is satisfactory enough, geometrical optimization of hydraulic seals using CFD will be studied in future works.
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