A Three-Dimensional Foil Bearing Performance Map Applied to Oil-Free Turbomachinery

Report No. ARL-TR-4473
Authors: Kevin C. Radil and Christopher DellaCorte
Date/Pages: April 2009; 22 pages
Abstract: To effectively apply compliant foil gas bearings to increasingly larger and more challenging turbomachinery, a comprehensive method that compares a foil bearing's capabilities with the application's operating requirements is needed. Extensive laboratory and field experience suggests foil bearing failure is generally due to thermal stress brought on by excessive viscous power loss; therefore a map that graphically relates component and system-level parameters (bearing size, applied loads, and shaft rotational speeds) directly to bearing power loss is more elucidating than a map based on a lumped speed/load parameter like the Sommerfeld number. In this report we describe a performance map featuring a three-dimensional contour plot that illustrates the expected power loss in a foil bearing as a function of applied load and shaft speed. Using this performance map, bearing capabilities can be examined at the anticipated system operating conditions and safety margins between an operating point and incipient bearing failure can be ascertained. To demonstrate the concept's features and usefulness, we present a performance map generated from foil bearing power loss test data. We expect these maps, combined with other predictive tools, will help evaluate a foil bearing's general suitability for a candidate rotor system and will lead to more robust and successful Oil-Free turbomachinery designs.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: April 1, 2009