The steady performance of a porous and compliant aerostatic thrust bearing

  • Marc T. Evans

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Recent developments in aerostatic thrust bearings have included: (a) the porous aerostatic thrust bearing containing a porous pad and (b) the inherently compensated compliant surface aerostatic thrust bearing containing a thin elastomer layer. Both these developments have been reported to improve the bearing load capacity compared to conventional aerostatic thrust bearings with rigid surfaces. This development is carried one stage further in a porous and compliant aerostatic thrust bearing incorporating both a porous pad and an opposing compliant surface. The thin elastomer layer forming the compliant surface is bonded to a rigid backing and is of a soft rubber like material. Such a bearing is studied experimentally and theoretically under steady state operating conditions. A mathematical model is presented to predict the bearing performance. In this model is a simplified solution to the elasticity equations for deflections of the compliant surface. Account is also taken of deflections in the porous pad due to the pressure difference across its thickness. The lubrication equations for flow in the porous pad and bearing clearance are solved by numerical finite difference methods. An iteration procedure is used to couple deflections of the compliant surface and porous pad with solutions to the lubrication equations. Comparisons between experimental results and theoretically predicted bearing performance are in good agreement. However these results show that the porous and compliant aerostatic thrust bearing performance is lower than that of a porous aerostatic thrust bearing with a rigid surface in place of the compliant surface. This discovery is accounted to the recess formed in the bearing clearance by deflections of the compliant surface and its effect on flow through the porous pad.
Date of Award1987
Original languageEnglish


  • steady performance
  • porous
  • compliant
  • aerostatic thrust bearing

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