Scaling Laws for Ultra-Short Hydrostatic Gas Journal Bearings

[+] Author and Article Information
Z. S. Spakovszky, L. X. Liu

Gas Turbine Laboratory, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139

J. Vib. Acoust 127(3), 254-261 (Jun 01, 2005) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.1897739 History: Received January 14, 2004; Revised July 26, 2004; Accepted August 05, 2004; Online May 18, 2005


The journal bearings of the MIT micro-devices are located at the outer periphery of the rotor and are designed to operate at rotational speeds of order two million rpm in order to enable high-power densities with turbomachinery tip speeds near 500 m/s. These journal bearings are very short compared to their relatively large bearing diameters such that the bearing L/D is typically less than 0.1, that is at least one order of magnitude smaller than in conventional gas bearings. Thus, the ultra-short micro gas journal bearings essentially act as short annular seals and operate at Reynolds numbers of order 300, two orders of magnitude lower than conventional annular seals. The concepts that hold for turbulent flow, large scale annular seals do not apply to micro bearings and the laminar flow regime sets new challenges in the design, implementation and operation of ultra-short, high-speed gas bearings. In order to reach the goal of operating the MIT micro devices at full design speed, the micro-bearing design must be improved and engineering solutions need to be found to overcome the challenges of high-speed bearing operation. This paper is the first to derive the scaling laws for the dynamics of ultra-short hydrostatic gas journal bearings. The theory is established from first principles and enables a physics based characterization of the dynamic behavior of ultra-short hydrostatic gas bearings. The derived scaling laws for natural frequency and damping ratio show good agreement with experimental data. A simple criterion for whirl instability is found that only depends on bearing geometry. The scaling laws together with this criterion are used to delineate engineering solutions critical for stable high-speed bearing operation. Design charts are developed which provide the link between fabrication tolerances, bearing performance, and the tolerable level of rotor unbalance for a minimum required whirl ratio.

Copyright © 2005 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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