A Review of the Rotordynamic Thermally Induced Synchronous Instability (Morton) Effect Academic Article uri icon


  • The Morton effect (ME) is a thermally induced instability problem that most commonly appears in rotating shafts with large overhung masses and supported by fluid-film bearings. The time-varying thermal bow, due to the asymmetric journal temperature distribution, may cause intolerable synchronous vibrations that exhibit a hysteresis behavior with respect to rotor speed. First discovered by Morton in the 1970s and theoretically analyzed by Keogh and Morton in the 1990s, the ME is still not fully understood by industry and academia experts. Traditional rotordynamic analysis generally fails to predict the potential existence of ME-induced instability in the design stage or troubleshooting process, and the induced excessive rotor vibrations cannot be effectively suppressed through conventional balancing, due to the continuous fluctuation of vibration amplitude and phase angle. In recent years, a fast growing number of case studies of ME have sparked academic interest in analyzing the causes and solutions of ME, and engineers have moved from an initial trial and error approach to more research inspired modification of the rotor and bearing. To facilitate the understanding of ME, the current review is intended to give the most comprehensive summary of ME in terms of symptoms, causes, prediction theories, and solutions. Published case studies in the past are also analyzed for ME diagnosis based on both the conventional view of critical speed, separation margin (SM), and the more recent view of the rotor thermal bow and instability speed band shifting. Although no universal solutions of ME are reported academically and industrially, recommendations to help avoid the ME are proposed based on both theoretical predictions and case studies.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Tong, X., Palazzolo, A., & Suh, J.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Tong, Xiaomeng||Palazzolo, Alan||Suh, Junho

publication date

  • November 2017