Active Magnetic Bearings for Gas Turbomachinery in Closed-Cycle Power Plant Systems PUBLIC ACCESS

[+] Author Affiliations
Colin F. McDonald

GA Technologies Inc., San Diego, CA

Paper No. 88-GT-156, pp. V003T08A005; 9 pages
  • ASME 1988 International Gas Turbine and Aeroengine Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 3: Coal, Biomass and Alternative Fuels; Combustion and Fuels; Oil and Gas Applications; Cycle Innovations
  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands, June 6–9, 1988
  • Conference Sponsors: International Gas Turbine Institute
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-7920-7
  • Copyright © 1988 by ASME


Bearing lubrication systems in closed-loop plants using gas (air or helium) as the working fluid (e.g., gas turbine, gas-cooled nuclear reactor, gas compressor, etc.) are very demanding since liquid lubricant ingress could contaminate the circuit, unlike open-cycle systems where the products would be expelled in the exhaust. Oil-lubricated bearings, the tribology mainstay in the power plant field, are reliable, but in the event of a failure in the seal or buffer system, the impact of oil ingress (e.g., saturation of insulation, coking on high-temperature surfaces, or in the extreme case, conflagration of equipment) can be costly and result in extended plant downtime.

The emergence in the early 1980s of a new tribology technology, namely a system in which the turbomachine rotor is levitated by a magnetic field, and positively sensed and controlled in real-time by an electronic system, now offers the designer an additional option. While an active magnetic system has many advantages, its foremost are (1) potential for very high reliability, (2) obviates the possibility of closed circuit contamination by lubricant ingress, (3) system simplicity, (4) ease of operation, and (5) ease of critical speed problems.

It is projected that utilization of “electronic chips instead of liquid films” will have a significant impact on the design of high-speed rotating machinery across the full spectrum of applications. This paper outlines the emergence of active magnetic bearings in rotating machinery for closed-cycle gas turbines, and in helium circulators for future high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear power plants. The paper highlights the existing industrial technology base that will make possible the deployment of active magnetic bearings in rotating machinery for the next generation of power plants that utilize closed-loop circuits.

Copyright © 1988 by ASME
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