Foil Bearing Considerations and Requirements for Rotorcraft Engine Applications

Report No. ARL-TR-4873
Authors: Kevin C. Radil (ARL) and Christopher DellaCorte (NASA-Glenn)
Date/Pages: August 2009; 20 pages
Abstract: Foil gas bearings under development for rotorcraft-sized, hot core engine applications have been susceptible to damage from the slow acceleration and rates typically encountered during the pre-ignition stage in conventional engines. Recent laboratory failures have been assumed to be directly linked to operating foil bearings below their lift-off speed while following conventional startup procedures for the engines. In each instance, the continuous sliding contact between the foils and shaft was believed to thermally overload the bearing and cause the engines to fail. These failures highlight the need to characterize required acceleration rates and minimum operating speeds for these applications. In this report, startup experiments were conducted with a large, rotorcraft engine sized foil bearing under moderate load and acceleration rates to identify the proper start procedures needed to avoid bearing failure. The results showed that a bearing under a 39.4 kPa static load can withstand a modest acceleration rate of 500 rpm/s and excessive loitering below the bearing lift-off speed provided an adequate solid lubricant is present.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: August 1, 2009