The Impact of Pad Flexibility on the Rotordynamic Coefficients of Tilting-Pad Journal Bearings Academic Article uri icon


  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME. Static and dynamic load tests were performed on a three-pad, rocker-pivot, tilting-pad journal bearing (TPJB) with three interchangeable pad configurations, each with measurably different pad flexibilities. Measured dynamic-stiffness data for the bearing were readily fitted by a frequency-independent, constant-coefficient [K][C][M] model. The test-bearing had a 101.74 mm diameter with L/D = 0.6. Tests were conducted over the speed range of 6-12 krpm, with unit loads varying from 0.172 to 1.724 MPa. An ISO VG 46 lubricant was used as the test fluid. Pad flexibility was characterized as the change in the pad's bending stiffness or the change in pad thickness. A finite-element model (FEM) was created to predict the structural bending stiffness of each pad configuration, showing a significant pad flexibility increase as pad thickness decreased. To examine the effect of pad flexibility on the rotordynamic coefficients, the measured results were compared across pad configurations and showed that the pad flexibility increase reduced the direct damping coefficients by 12-20%. As pad flexibility increased, the direct-stiffness coefficients could increase or decrease, depending on the unit load. They varied from an increase of 12% at low unit loads to a decrease of 3% at high unit loads. Results show that the pad's structural bending stiffness or flexibility is important when predicting the bearing's dynamic performance. Damping is consistently overpredicted when neglecting pad flexibility. A nondimensional pad flexibility parameter αflex was developed. It related the average deflection across the pad surface to the pad's arc length and was to relate the pad flexibility of multiple bearings of different sizes. A bearing code was used to predict the percent change in direct damping coefficients for rigid-pad/flexible-pivot and flexible-pad/flexible-pivot models for a surface speed of 54 m/s and a unit load of 783 kPa for the three-pad configuration tested here plus five additional tested bearings from the literature. For the minimum pad thickness configuration tested here, the code predicted a 20% drop in predicted Cxx (off-load axis direct damping) when comparing a model that included pad flexibility with a model that neglected pad flexibility. In terms of αflex, the two thinnest pad configurations tested here are quite flexible compared to both TPJB's pads used in industry and previously tested TPJB pads.

author list (cited authors)

  • Gaines, J. E., & Childs, D. W.

citation count

  • 4

publication date

  • February 2016