Thin film bearings with phase change of lubricant

  • Nasser Saadat

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The possible evaporation of lubricant in fluid film bearings has been investigated theoretically and by experiment using a radial flow hydrostatic bearing supplied with liquid refrigerant R114. Good correlation between measured and theoretical values was obtained using a bespoke computational fluid dynamic model in which the flow was assumed to be laminar and adiabatic. The effects of viscous dissipation and vapour generation within the fluid film are fully accounted for by applying a fourth order Runge-Kutta routine to satisfy the radial and filmwise transverse constraints of momentum, energy and mass conservation. The results indicate that the radial velocity profile remains parabolic while the flow remains in the liquid phase and that the radial rate of enthalpy generation is then constant across the film at a given radius. The results also show that evaporation will commence at a radial location determined by geometry and flow conditions and in fluid layers adjacent to the solid boundaries. Evaporation is shown to progress in the radial direction and the load carrying capacity of such a bearing is reduced significantly. Expressions for the viscosity of the liquid/vapour mixture found in the literature survey have not been tested against experimental data. A new formulation is proposed in which the suitable choice of a characteristic constant yields close representation to any of these expressions. Operating constraints imposed by the design of the experimental apparatus limited the extent of the surface over which evaporation could be obtained, and prevented clear identification of the most suitable relationship for the viscosity of the liquid/vapour mixture. The theoretical model was extended to examine the development of two phase flow in a rotating shaft face seal of uniform thickness. Previous theoretical analyses have been based on the assumption that the radial velocity profile of the flow is always parabolic, and that the tangential component of velocity varies linearly from the value at the rotating surface, to zero at the stationary surface. The computational fluid dynamic analysis shows that viscous shear and dissipation in the fluid adjacent to the rotating surface leads to developing evaporation with a consequent reduction in tangential shear forces. The tangential velocity profile is predicted to decay rapidly through the film, exhibiting a profile entirely different to that assumed by previous investigators. Progressive evaporation takes place close to the moving wall and does not occur completely at a single radial location, as has been claimed in earlier work.
Date of Award1991
Original languageEnglish


  • film bearings
  • phase change
  • lubricant
  • lubricant evaporation
  • refrigerant compressors
  • sliding vane machines

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