Hybrid air foil bearing with external pressurization
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Foil bearings are widely used for oil-free micro turbomachinery. One of the critical technical issues related to reliability of the foil bearings is a coating wear on the top foil and rotor during start/stops. Bearing cooling is also mandatory for certain applications because the foil bearings can generate significant amount of heat depending on operating conditions. Usually axial flow is used through the space between the top foil and bearing sleeve. In this thesis, a hybrid air foil bearing with external pressurization is introduced. The hybrid operation eliminates the coating wear during start-up/shut down, and also reduces drag torque during starts. Furthermore, this hybrid foil bearing does not need cooling system. An experimental test with a loaded bearing under hydrostatic mode demonstrates the high potential of hybrid air foil bearings. The load capacity of the hybrid foil bearing was measured at 20,000 rpm, and compared with that of hydrodynamic foil bearing. The hybrid foil bearing has much higher load capacity than the hydrodynamic foil bearing. The starting torque was also measured and compared with hydrodynamic bearing. A simple analytical model to calculate top foil deflection under hydrostatic pressurization has been developed. Predictions via orbit simulations indicate the hybrid air foil bearings can have a much higher critical speed and onset speed of instability than the hydrodynamic counter part. Major benefits of the hybrid foil bearings also include very low starting torque, reduced wear of the top foil and rotor, and very effective cooling capability by the pressurized air itself. This new concept of hybrid air foil bearings are expected to be widely applied to the oil free turbomachinery industry, especially for heavily loaded and/or high temperature applications.
SubjectHybrid Air Foil Bearing
Park, Soongook (2007). Hybrid air foil bearing with external pressurization. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from