An Introduction to Bearing Instability

Hydrodynamic bearings operating at high speeds encounter instability problems of oil whirl and whip. Instability may ruin not only the bearings but the entire machine. It is well-known that hydrodynamics bearings play an important role in determining and controlling the vibrations of a rotating machinery, because of the springs and dampers, and bearings strongly influence the critical speed and imbalance response. Under certain conditions, the bearings can create rotor instability which results in significant self-excited vibrations.

The types of stability here are for a balanced journal and are mentioned below. If, as time increases, the trajectory of the journal center goes to a point of the clearance circle and remains there indefinitely, then the bearing is considered to exhibit “point stability,” Fig. 1(a). If, as time increases, the trajectory does not go to a point, as shown in Fig. 1(b) and (c), then the bearing, is considered to exhibit “point instability”. Two types of instability are shown in Figure 1. In Fig 1(b) the trajectory continues to increases without bound, ultimately reaching the limit of the clearance circle, therefore, this case is called “unbounded “. As time increases eases, if the trajectory closes on itself forming a limit cycle, as shown in Fig 1(c), then the trajectory can be said to be “orbitally stable”.

Types of Stability
Figure. 1 Types of stability

Satisfactory dynamic characteristics are essential to good bearing design. Hence it is very important for the designers to predict the journal center motion trajectories. AxSTREAM Bearing™ is used to calculate the hydrodynamic characteristics based on the mass-conserving mathematical model by applying the finite difference method with the successive over-relaxation (SOR) algorithm.

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Role of AxSTREAM® in Radial Turbine Design

Radial turbines are quite popular for turbochargers and micro-gas turbines. They can also be found in compact power sources like in auxiliary power units of aircrafts. In short, they are suitable in power generation applications where expansion ratios are high and mass flow rates are relatively small. In a radial turbine, the flow enters radially and exits either axially or radially depending on whether it is an inflow or outflow type radial turbine. The most commonly used type of radial turbine is a radial-inflow turbine, in which the working fluid flows from a larger radius to a smaller radius. A centripetal turbine is very similar in appearance to the centrifugal compressor, but the flow direction is reverse. Figure 1 shows the radial-inflow turbine on the left and radial-outflow turbine on the right.

Radial-inflow turbine on the left; Radial-outflow turbine on the right
Figure 1: Radial-inflow turbine on the left; Radial-outflow turbine on the right

Nowadays, the popularity of radial-outflow turbines, in which the flow moves in the opposite direction (from the center to the periphery), is growing. With recent advancement in waste heat recovery applications, there has been a renewed interest in this type of turbines. These radial-outflow turbines are most commonly used in applications based on organic Rankine cycles (ORC).

The radial-outflow turbine design was first invented by the Ljungström brothers in 1912, however it was rarely used for a number of reasons. One of which was related to the decrease of turbine-specific work due to the increase of the peripheral velocity from inlet to outlet while expanding the vapor. Another reason was the usage of steam as a working fluid. It is known from thermodynamics that the expansion of steam is characterized by high enthalpy drops, high volumetric flows and high volumetric ratios. Thus, a significant number of stages are needed to convert the enthalpy drop of the fluid into mechanical energy.

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Modern Approaches and Significance of Multiphase Flow Modeling


Corresponding with the development of industrial technology in the middle of the nineteenth century, people  dealt with multiphase flows but the decision to describe them in a rigorous mathematical form was first made only 70 years ago. As the years progressed, development of computers and computation technologies led to the revolution in mathematical modeling of mixing and multiphase flows. There are a few periods, which could describe the development of this computation:

«Empirical Period» (1950-1975)

There were a lot of experiments which were done during this period. All models were obtained from experimental or industrial facilities which is why using them was difficult for different cases.

«Awakening Period» (1975-1985)

Because of sophisticated, expensive and not universal experiments, the researchers’ attention was directed to the physical processes in multiphase flows.

«Modeling Period» (1985-Present)

Today, the models for multi-flow calculation using the equations of continuity together with equations of energy conservation are obtained, which allow describing phase’s interaction for different flow regimes. (A.V. Babenko, L. B. Korelshtein – Hydraulic calculation two phase gas liquid course: modern approach // Calculations and modeling journal. – 2016. – TPА 2 (83) 2016. – P.38-42.)

Technology Development

Since the time of industrial development, installation designs have undergone great changes. For example, there are shell and tube evaporators for freeze systems where the heat transfer coefficient has increased 10 times over during the last 50 years. These results are a consequence of different innovation decisions. Developments led to research into mini-channels systems, which is the one of the methods to increase intensification of phase transition. Research has shown that heat exchange systems with micro and nano dimensions have a much greater effect than the macrosystems with channels dimensions ≤3-200 mm.

In order to organize fundamental research, it is very important to understand hydro, gas dynamics and heat changes in two-phase systems with the phase transition. At present, the number of researchers using advanced CFD-programs has increased. Our team is one of the lead developers of these program complexes.

Mathematical modeling of compressible multiphase fluid flows is interesting with a lot of scientific directions, and has big potential for practical use in many different engineering fields. Today it is no secret that environmental issues are some of the most commonly discussed questions in the world. People are trying to reduce the emissions of combustion products. One of the methods to decrease emissions is the organization of an environmentally acceptable process of fuel burning with reduced yields of nitrogen and sulfur. The last blog ( discussed numerical methods, which can calculate these tasks with minimal time and cost in CFD applications.

Waste Heat Boiler
Picture 1 – Waste heat boiler

For more effective use of energy resources and low-potential heat utilization, the choice of the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) is justified. Due to the fact that heat is used and converted to mechanical work, it is important to use a fluid with a boiling temperature lower than the boiling temperature of water at atmospheric pressure (with working flow-boiling temperature about 100⁰C). The usage of freons and hydrocarbons in these systems makes a solution impossible without taking into account the changes of working fluid phases. Read More

2.4 Flow Path Elements Macro Modelling

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Key Symbols
Indexes and Other Signs

Macromodels are dependencies of the “black box” type with a reduced number of internal relations. This is most convenient to create such dependence in the form of power polynomials. Obtaining formal macromodels (FMM) as a power polynomial based on the analysis of the results of numerical experiments conducted with the help of the original mathematical models (OMM).

Therefore, the problem of formal macro modelling includes two subtasks:

1. The FMM structure determining.
2. The numerical values of the FMM parameters (polynomial coefficients) finding.

As is known, the accuracy of the polynomial and the region of its adequacy greatly depend on its structure and order. At the same time, obtaining polynomials of high degrees requires analysis of many variants of the investigated flow path elements, which leads to significant computer resources cost and complicates the process of calculating the coefficients of the polynomial.

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Modern Approach to Liquid Rocket Engine Development for Microsatellite Launchers

Microsatellites have been carried to space as secondary payloads aboard larger launchers for many years. However, this secondary payload method does not offer the specificity required for modern day demands of increasingly sophisticated small satellites which have unique orbital and launch-time requirements. Furthermore, to remain competitive the launch cost must be as low as $7000/kg. The question of paramount importance today is how to design both the liquid rocket engine turbopump and the entire engine to reduce the duration and cost of development.

The system design approach applied to rocket engine design is one of the potential ways for development duration reduction. The development of the design system which reduces the duration of development along with performance optimization is described herein.

The engineering system for preliminary engine design needs to integrate a variety of tools for design/simulation of each specific component or subsystem of the turbopump including thermodynamic simulation of the engine in a single iterative process.

The process flowchart, developed by SoftInWay, Inc., integrates all design and analysis processes and is presented in the picture below.

Execution Process Flow Chart
Execution Process Flow Chart

The preliminary layout of the turbopump was automatically generated in CAD tool (Block 11). The developed sketch was utilized in the algorithm for mass/inertia parameters determination, secondary flow system dimensions generations, and for the visualization of the turbopump configuration. The layout was automatically refined at every iteration. Read More

Hydrodynamic Journal Bearings Optimization Considering Rotor Dynamics Restrictions

This is an excerpt from a technical paper, presented at the ASME Turbo Expo 2018 Conference in Oslo, Norway and written by Leonid Moroz, Leonid Romanenko, Roman Kochurov, and Evgen Kashtanov. Follow the link at the end of the post to read the full study! 


High-performance rotating machines usually operate at a high rotational speed and produce significant static and dynamic loads that act on the bearings. Fluid film journal bearings play a significant role in machine overall reliability and rotor-bearing system vibration and performance characteristics. The increase of bearings complexity along with their applications severity make it challenging for the engineers to develop a reliable design. Bearing modeling should be based on accurate physical effects simulation. To ensure bearing reliable operation, the design should be performed based not only on simulation results for the hydrodynamic bearing itself but also, taking into the account rotor dynamics results for the particular rotor-bearing system, because bearing characteristics significantly influence the rotor vibration response.

AxSTREAM Bearing

Numbers of scientists and engineers have been involved in a journal bearing optimal design generation. A brief review of works dedicated to various aspects of bearing optimization is presented in [1]. Based on the review it can be concluded, that the performance of isolated hydrodynamic bearing can be optimized by proper selection of the length, clearance, and lubricant viscosity. Another conclusion is that the genetic algorithms and particle swarm optimization can be successfully applied to optimize the bearing design. Journal bearings optimizations based on genetic algorithms are also considered in [2-5]. The studies show the effectiveness of the genetic algorithms. At the same time, the disadvantages of the approach are high complexity and a greater number of function evaluations in comparison with numerical methods, which require significantly higher computational efforts and time for the optimization. A numerical evolutionary strategy and an experimental optimization on a lab test rig were applied to get the optimal design of a tilting pad journal bearing for an integrally geared compressor in [6]. The final result of numerical and experimental optimizations was tested in the field and showed that the bearing pad temperature could be significantly decreased. Optimal journal bearing design selection procedure for a large turbocharger is described in [7]. In this study power loss, rotor dynamics instability, manufacturing, and economic restrictions are analyzed. To optimize the oil film thickness by satisfying the condition of maximizing the pressure in a three lobe bearing, the multi-objective genetic algorithm was used in [8]. In the reviewed studies the optimization has been performed for ‘isolated’ bearing and influence on rotor dynamics response was not considered.

For higher reliability and longer life of rotating mechanical equipment, the vibration of the rotor-bearing system and of the entire drivetrain should be as low as possible. A good practice
for safe rotor design typically involves the avoidance of any resonance situation at operating speeds with some margins. One common method of designing low vibration equipment is to have a separation margin between the critical natural frequencies and operating speed, as required by API standard [9]. The bearing design and parameters significantly influence rotor-bearing system critical speeds. Thus, to guarantee low rotor vibrations, the critical speeds separation margins should be ensured at rotor-bearing system design/optimization stage

Conjugated optimization for the entire rotor-bearing system is a challenging task due to various conflicting design requirements, which should be fulfilled. In [10] parameters of
rotor-bearing systems are optimized simultaneously. The design objective was the minimization of power loss in bearings with constraints on system stability, unbalance sensitivities, and
bearing temperatures. Two heuristic optimization algorithms, genetic and particle-swarm optimizations were employed in the automatic design process.

There are several objective functions that are considered by researchers to optimize bearing geometry, such as:

– Optimum load carrying capacity [5];
– Minimum oil film thickness and bearing clearance optimization [1, 6, 8];
– Power losses minimization [6, 7];
– Rotor dynamics restrictions;
– Manufacturing, reliability and economics restrictions [7]

The most common design variables which are considered in reviewed works are clearance, bearing length, diameter, oil viscosity, and oil supply pressure.

Finding the minimum power loss or optimal load carrying capacity together with the entire rotor-bearing system dynamics restrictions, require to employ optimization techniques, because accounting the effects from all considered parameters significantly enlarge the analysis process. Several numerical methods, such as FDM and FEM are usually employed to solve this complex problem and calculation process can sometimes be time-consuming and takes a large amount of computing capacity. To leverage this optimization tasks, efficient algorithms are needed.

In the current study, the optimization approach, which is based on DOE and best sequences method (BSM) [11, 12] and allows to generate journal bearings with improved characteristics was developed and applied to 13.5 MW induction motor application. The approach is based on coupled analysis of bearing and entire rotor-bearing system dynamics to satisfy API standard requirements.

Problem Formulation and Analysis Methods Description

The goal of the work is to increase reliability and efficiency for the 13.5 MW induction motor prototype (Fig. 1) by oil hydrodynamic journal bearings optimization.

Rotor of 13.5 MW Induction Motor
Figure 1: Rotor of 13.5 MW Induction Motor

The motor operating parameters and rotor characteristics are presented below:

– Rated speed rpm: 1750
– Minimum operating speed rpm: 1750
– Maximum operating speed rpm: 1750
– Mass of the rotor kg: 6509
– Length of the rotor mm: 3500

Initially, for the motor application, plain cylindrical journal bearings were chosen to support the rotor. The scheme of the DE (drive end) and NDE (non-drive end) baseline bearings designs
is presented in Fig. 2. For baseline designs, bearing loads were 35 kN for DE and 28 kN for NDE bearing.

Plain Cylindrical Bearing
Figure 2: Plain Cylindrical Bearing

The methodology for the bearing characteristics simulation is based on the mass-conserving mathematical model, proposed by Elrod & Adams [13], which is by now well-established as the
accurate tool for simulation in hydrodynamic lubrication including cavitation.

Read full paper here 

An Introduction to Accurate HVAC System Modeling

HVAC (Heat, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) is all about comfort, and comfort is a subjective feeling associated with many parameters like air quality, air temperature, surrounding surface temperature, air flow and relative humidity. For example, while it is easy to understand how the temperature of the air in your living impacts how good you feel, the surfaces with which you are in contact also strongly affect your comfort. For example, last night I got out of bed to clean up after my dog who thought it would be a good idea to swallow (and give back) her chew toy. If I was wearing my slippers, it would have been much easier to go back to sleep between the warm bed sheets without the discomfort of waiting my cold feet warm up to normal temperature.

Speaking of sleep discomfort, many stem from HVAC imbalances.  If you wake up in the middle of the night quite thirsty, then you should probably check how dry your bedroom is. The recommended range is 40-60% relative humidity. A higher humidity puts you at risk for mold while lower humidity can lead to respiratory infections, asthma, etc.

Now that we know how HVAC contributes to our comfort, let’s look at the HVAC unit as a system and see its role, functioning and simulation at a high level. The following examples provided are for a house, but similar concepts apply to residential buildings, offices, and so on.

Controlling Temperature

The easiest parameter to control is the air temperature. It can be set by a thermostat and regulated according to a heating or cooling flow distributed from the HVAC unit to the different rooms through ducting. Without the introduction of thermally-different-than-ambient air, the house will heat or cool itself based on a combination of outside conditions and how well the building is insulated. Therefore, to keep a constant temperature a certain amount of energy must be used to provide heating (or cooling) at the same rate the house is losing (or gaining) heat.  This is a match of the house load and heating/cooling capacity. Figure 1 provides a graph of the energy needed.

Illustration of dependency of house load and heating capacity on outside temperature
Figure 1 Illustration of dependency of house load and heating capacity on outside temperature

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Turbojets – Basics and Off-design Simulation

The Brayton cycle is the fundamental constant pressure gas heating cycle used by all air-breathing jet engines. The Brayton cycle can be portrayed by a diagram of temperature vs. specific entropy, or T–S diagram, to visualize changes to temperature and specific entropy during a thermodynamic process or cycle. Figure 1 shows this ideal cycle as a black line.  However, in the real world, the compression and expansion processes are never isentropic, and there is always a certain pressure loss in the combustor.  The real Brayton cycle looks more like the blue line in Figure 1.

Figure 1 T-S diagram for ideal and real Brayton cycle

The four stages of this cycle are described as:

1-2: isentropic compression

2-3: constant pressure heating

3-4: isentropic expansion

4-0: constant pressure cooling (absent in open cycle gas turbines)

The most basic form of a jet engine is a turbojet engine. Figures 2a and 2b provide the basic design of a turbojet engine. It consists of a gas turbine that produces hot, high-pressure gas, but has zero net shaft power output. A nozzle converts the thermal energy of the hot, high-pressure gas at the outlet of the turbine into a high-kinetic-energy exhaust stream. The high momentum and high exit pressure of the exhaust stream result in a forward thrust on the engine. Read More

Turbine Blade Cooling – An Integrated Approach

It is a well-known fact in the turbomachinery community that the highest temperature achievable at the inlet of the turbine is a critical performance parameter for the turbine. For any given pressure ratio and adiabatic efficiency, the turbine specific work is proportional to the inlet stagnation temperature. Typically, a 1% increase in the turbine inlet temperature can cause a 2-3% increase in the engine output.

Increase in net power output of a gas turbine over a one percentage point rise in turbine inlet temperature
Figure 1 Increase in net power output of a gas turbine over a one percentage point rise in turbine inlet temperature

The major limitation for the maximum achievable value of the turbine inlet temperature comes from the material used for the turbine. The maximum material temperature has to be kept in check for multiple reasons, from the physical integrity to the structural reliability, and resulting temperature needs to be less than the turbine blade material’s maximum temperature.

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Computational Fluid Dynamics for Centrifugal Compressors

In today’s world where “time is money,” each and every industry involving turbomachinery wants to deliver their high performance products in the quickest time possible. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) replaces the huge number of testing requirements thus not only shortening the design cycle time, but also reducing development costs.

Today with advancements in computational resources, numerical methods, and the availability of commercial tools, CFD has become a major tool for the design phase of a project. With a large number of validations and bench markings available on the applicability of CFD for centrifugal compressors, it has become an indispensable tool for the aerodynamic designer to verify the design and understand the flow physics inside a compressor’s flow path. However, CFD is still computationally expensive and requires a high level of user-knowledge and experience to get meaningful results. CFD analysis can be performed with and without considering viscous effects of the flow. The inclusion of viscosity into the flow introduces additional complexities for choosing the most appropriate turbulence closure model. CFD however, has some limitations due to:

  • – Errors created during modeling where the true physics are not well-known and are very complex to model.
  • – Multiple approximation and model errors created during the calculation process (such as mesh resolution, steady flow assumption, turbulence closure, geometric approximation, unknown boundary profile etc.). These approximations impact the calculations of local values of vital parameters.

In CFD for example, if the 1D design is not accurate, (stage loading and blade diffusion factors etc.), then CFD cannot turn out a good design. It is critical to use a design tool such as AxSTREAM®  which can generate optimized designs with less time and effort starting from the specification.

The preliminary design modules of AxSTREAM® uses inverse design tasks to generate the initial flow path for the centrifugal compressor. By choosing the right combination of geometrical and design parameters from the start, AxSTREAM® reduces the number of design cycle iterations required in generating an accurate design.

This initial design obtained is further analyzed and optimized using throughflow solvers in AxSTREAM® which considers various operating conditions. The throughflow solvers in AxSTREAM®  predict the performance parameters at different sections and stations, and presents the blade loading, flow distribution along the flow path, etc.

The generation of 3D geometry for the impeller and diffuser is another complex activity which is greatly simplified by using the radial profiler and 3D blade design module in AxSTREAM®. The geometry generated in AxSTREAM® is fully parameterized with complete control for the user to modify as and when required. Figure 1 shows a parameterized impeller geometry generated using seven spanwise sections with contours of the curvature.

Parameterized Impeller Geometry
Figure 1. Parameterized Impeller Geometry

In CFD analysis of turbomachines, grid generation becomes a very challenging task due to the geometries of complicated, twisted blades. To achieve reliable CFD results, the grid must resolve the topology accurately to preserve this geometric information. The quality of the grid should be in an acceptable range especially the angle, aspect ratio, and skewness of the grid elements. Automatic mesh generation tools are employed to reduce the turbomachines meshing complications. The AxSTREAM® platform uses AxCFD™ to generate a high quality mesh in considerably short time which captures the accurate flow features.

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