Characterization of a Foil Bearing Structure at Increasing Temperatures: Static Load and Dynamic Force Performance Academic Article uri icon


  • Oil-free turbomachinery relies on gas bearing supports for reduced power losses and enhanced rotordynamic stability. Gas foil bearings (GFBs) with bump-strip compliant layers can sustain large loads, both static and dynamic, and provide damping to reduce shaft vibrations. The ultimate load capacity of GFBs depends on the material properties and configuration of the underlying bump-strip structures. In high temperature applications, thermal effects, which change the operating clearances and material properties, can considerably affect the performance of the GFB structure. This paper presents experiments conducted to estimate the structural stiffness of a test GFB for increasing shaft temperatures. A 38.17mm inner diameter GFB is mounted on a nonrotating hollow shaft affixed to a rigid structure. A cartridge heater inserted into the shaft provides a controllable heat source and thermocouples record the temperatures on the shaft and GFB housing. For increasing shaft temperatures (up to 188°C), increasing static loads (0-133N) are applied to the bearing and its deflection recorded. In the test configuration, thermal expansion of the GFB housing, larger than that of the shaft, nets a significant increase in radial clearance, which produces a significant reduction in the bearing's structural stiffness. A simple physical model, which assembles the individual bump stiffnesses, predicts well the measured GFB structural stiffness. Single frequency periodic loads (40-200Hz) are exerted on the test bearing to identify its dynamic structural stiffness and equivalent viscous damping or a dry-friction coefficient. The GFB dynamic stiffness increases by as much as 50% with dynamic load amplitudes increasing from 13N to 31N. The stiffness nearly doubles from low to high frequencies, and most importantly, it decreases by a third as the shaft temperature rises to 188°C. In general, the GFB dynamic stiffness is lower than its static magnitude at low excitation frequencies, while it becomes larger with increasing excitation frequency due apparently to a bump slip-stick phenomenon. The GFB viscous damping is inversely proportional to the amplitude of the dynamic load, excitation frequency, and shaft temperature. The GFB dryfriction coefficient decreases with increasing amplitude of the applied load and shaft temperature, and increases with increasing excitation frequency. © 2009 by ASME.

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, T. H., Breedlove, A. W., & San Andrés, L.

citation count

  • 31

publication date

  • September 2009