Tilting Pad Journal Bearings—A Discussion on Stability Calculation, Frequency Dependence, and Pad and Pivot Academic Article uri icon


  • For several years, researchers have presented predictions showing that using a full tilting-pad journal bearing (TPJB) model (retaining all of the pad degrees of freedom) is necessary to accurately perform stability calculations for a shaft operating on TPJBs. This paper will discuss this issue, discuss the importance of pad and pivot flexibility in predicting impedance coefficients for the tilting-pad journal bearing, present measured changes in bearing clearance with operating temperature, and summarize the differences between measured and predicted frequency dependence of dynamic impedance coefficients. The current work presents recent test data for a 100 mm (4 in.) five-pad TPJB tested in load on pad (LOP) configuration. Measured results include bearing clearance as a function of operating temperature, pad clearance and radial displacement of the loaded pad (the pad having the static load vector directed through its pivot), and frequency-dependent stiffness and damping. Measured hot-bearing clearances are approximately 30 smaller than measured cold-bearing clearances and are inversely proportional to pad surface temperature; predicting bearing impedances with a rigid pad and pivot model using these reduced clearances results in overpredicted stiffness and damping coefficients that are several times larger than previous comparisons. The effect of employing a full bearing model versus a reduced bearing model (where only journal degrees of freedom are retained) in a stability calculation for a realistic rotor-bearing system is assessed. For the bearing tested, the bearing coefficients reduced at the frequency of the unstable eigenvalue (subsynchronously reduced) predicted a destabilizing cross-coupled stiffness coefficient at the onset of instability within 1 of the full model, while synchronously reduced coefficients for the lightly loaded bearing required 25 more destabilizing cross-coupled stiffness than the full model to cause system instability. The same stability calculation was performed using measured stiffness and damping coefficients at synchronous and subsynchronous frequencies. These predictions showed that both the synchronously measured stiffness and damping and predictions using the full bearing model were more conservative than the model using subsynchronously measured stiffness and damping, an outcome that is completely opposite from conclusions reached by comparing different prediction models. This contrasting outcome results from a predicted increase in damping with increasing excitation frequency at all speeds and loads; however, this increase in damping with increasing excitation frequency was only measured at the most heavily loaded conditions. © 2012 American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

author list (cited authors)

  • Wilkes, J. C., & Childs, D. W.

citation count

  • 21

publication date

  • October 2012