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! 

Introduction

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 

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