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The Role of Tribology in the Development of an Oil-Free TurbochargerGas-turbine-based aeropropulsion engines are technologically mature. Thus, as with any mature technology, revolutionary approaches will be needed to achieve the significant performance gains that will keep the U.S. propulsion manufacturers well ahead of foreign competition. One such approach is the development of oil-free turbomachinery utilizing advanced foil air bearings, seals, and solid lubricants. By eliminating oil-lubricated bearings and seals and supporting an engine rotor on an air film, significant improvements can be realized. For example, the entire oil system including pipes, lines, filters, cooler, and tanks could be removed, thereby saving considerable weight. Since air has no thermal decomposition temperature, engine systems could operate without excessive cooling. Also, since air bearings have no diameter-rpm fatigue limits (D-N limits), engines could be designed to operate at much higher speeds and higher density, which would result in a smaller aeropropulsion package. Because of recent advances in compliant foil air bearings and high temperature solid lubricants, these technologies can be applied to oil-free turbomachinery. In an effort to develop these technologies and to demonstrate a project along the path to an oil-free gas turbine engine, NASA has undertaken the development of an oil-free turbocharger for a heavy duty diesel engine. This turbomachine can reach 120000 rpm at a bearing temperature of 540 C (1000 F) and, in comparison to oil-lubricated bearings, can increase efficiency by 10 to 15 percent because of reduced friction. In addition, because there are no oil lubricants, there are no seal-leakage-induced emissions.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Dellacorte, Christopher (NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Date Acquired
August 17, 2013
Publication Date
April 1, 1997
Publication Information
Publication: Physics and Process Modeling (PPM) and Other Propulsion R and T
Volume: 2
Subject Category
Mechanical Engineering
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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