Circumferential back-to-back assembly with bifurcated flow

A circumferential seal assembly capable of separating a gas into two separate flow paths before communication between a rotatable runner and a pair of seal rings is presented. The seal assembly includes an annular seal housing, a pair of annular seal rings, a rotatable runner, and a plurality of groove structures. The seal housing is interposed between a pair of compartments. The seal rings are separately disposed within the seal housing and separately disposed around the rotatable runner. The groove structures are disposed along an outer annular surface of the rotatable runner. A gas is communicable onto the groove structures. Each groove structure includes at least two hydrodynamic grooves that separate and communicate the gas onto the seal rings. Each groove includes steps whereby the depth of at least one adjoining step decreases in the direction opposite to rotation with or without the depth of another adjoining steps increasing in the direction opposite to rotation.