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A Rotordynamic, Thermal, and Thrust Load Performance Gas Bearing Test Rig and Test Results for Tilting Pad Journal Bearings and Spiral Groove Thrust Bearings

[+] Author Affiliations
Aaron M. Rimpel

Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX

Giuseppe Vannini

GE Oil & Gas, Florence, Italy

Jongsoo Kim

Waukesha Bearings, Pewaukee, WI

Paper No. GT2016-57665, pp. V008T23A027; 12 pages
  • ASME Turbo Expo 2016: Turbomachinery Technical Conference and Exposition
  • Volume 8: Microturbines, Turbochargers and Small Turbomachines; Steam Turbines
  • Seoul, South Korea, June 13–17, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: International Gas Turbine Institute
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4986-6
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


A high speed gas bearing test rig was developed to characterize rotordynamic, thermal, and thrust load performance of gas bearings being developed for an oil-free turboexpander. The radial bearings tested in this paper were tilting pad journal bearings with radial compliance features that allow the bearing bore to increase to accommodate shaft growth, and the thrust bearings were a spiral groove type with axial compliance features. The thrust bearing accounts for over 90% of the combined bearing power consumption, which has a cubic relationship with speed and increases with case pressure. Radial bearing circumferential pad temperature gradients increased approximately with speed to the fourth or fifth power, with slightly higher temperature rise for lower case pressure. Maximum steady state bearing pad temperatures increase with increasing speed for similar cooling mass flow rates; however, only the thrust bearing showed a significant increase in temperature with higher case pressure. The thrust bearings were stable at all speeds, but the load capacity was found to be lower than anticipated, apparently due to pad deformations caused by radial temperature gradients in the stator. More advanced modeling approaches have been proposed to better understand the thrust bearing thermal behavior and to improve the thrust bearing design. Finally, the radial bearings tested were demonstrated to be stable up to the design speed of 130 krpm, which represents the highest surface speed for tilting pad gas bearings tested in the literature.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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