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Consideration of Alternate Working Fluid Properties in Gas Lubricated Foil Journal BearingsThe Oil-Free Turbomachinery Program at the NASA Glenn Research center is committed to, revolutionary improvements in performance, efficiency and reliability of turbomachinery propulsion systems. One of the key breakthroughs by which this goal is being achieved is the maturation of air lubricated foil bearing technology. Through experimental testing, foil bearings have demonstrated a variety of exceptional qualities that show them to have an important role in the future of rotordynamic lubrication. Most of the work done with foil bearings thus far has considered ambient air at atmospheric pressure as the working fluid or lubricating fluid in the bearing. However, special applications of oil-free technology require the use of air at non- standard ambient conditions or completely different working fluids altogether. The NASA Jupiter Icy Moon Orbiter program presents power generation needs far beyond that of any previous space exploration effort. The proposed spacecraft will require significant power generation to provide the propulsion necessary to reach the moons of Jupiter and navigate between them. Once there, extensive scientific research will be conducted that will also present significant power requirements. Such extreme needs require exploring a new method for power generation in space. A proposed solution involves a Brayton cycle nuclear fission reactor. The nature of this application requires reliable performance of all reactor components for many years of operation under demanding conditions. This includes the bearings which will be operating with an alternative working fluid that is a combination of Helium and Xenon gases commonly known as HeXe. This fluid has transport and thermal properties that vary significantly from that of air and the effect of these property differences on bearing performance must be considered. One of the most promising applications of oil-free technology is in aircraft turbine engines. Eliminating the oil supply systems from aircraft engines will lead to significant weight and maintenance reduction. In such applications, the lubricating fluid will be high altitude air. This air will be at much lower pressure than that at sea level. Again this property change will result in a change in bearing performance, and analysis is required to quantify this effect. The study of these alternate working fluid properties will be conducted in two ways: analytically and experimentally. Analytical research will include the use of a mathematical code that can predict film thickness profiles for various ambient conditions. Estimations of load capacity can be made based upon the film thickness trends. These values will then be compared to those obtained from classical rigid bearing analysis. Experimental Research will include testing a foil bearing at a variety of ambient air pressures. The analytical and experimental data will be compared to draw conclusions on bearing performance under alternate working fluid properties.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Document Type
Smith, Matthew J.
(Pennsylvania State Univ. PA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Research Symposium I
Subject Category
Mechanical Engineering
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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