Variable impedance bearings for large rotating machinery

  • Michael J. Goodwin

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis describes an investigation which was carried out under the Interdisciplinary Higher Degres (IHD) Scheme of The University of Aston in Birmingham. The investigation, which involved joint collaboration between the IHD scheme, the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and G.E.C. Turbine Generators Limited, was concerned with hydrostatic bearing characteristics and of how hydrostatic bearings could be used to enable turbine generator rotor support impedances to be controlled to give an improved rotor dynamic response. Turbine generator rotor critical speeds are determined not only by the mass and flexibility of the rotor itself, which are relatively easily predicted, but also by the dynamic characteristics of the bearing oil film, pedestal, and foundations. It is because of the difficulty in accurately predicting the rotor support characteristics that the designer has a problem in ensuring that a rotor's normal running speed is not close to one of its critical speeds. The consequence of this situation is that some rotors do have critical speeds close to their normal running speed and the resulting high levels of vibration cause noise, high rotor stresses, and a shortening of bearing life. A combined theoretical and experimental investigation of the effects of mounting the normal rotor journal bearing in a hydrostatic bearing was carried out. The purpose of the work was to show that by changing the oil flow resistance offered by capillaries connecting accumulators to the hydrostatic bearing, the overall rotor support characteristics could be tuned to enable rotor critical speeds to be moved at will. Testing of a combined journal and hydrostatic bearing has confirmed the theory of its operation and a theoretical study of a full size machine showed that its critical speed could be moved by over 350 rpm and that its rotor vibration at running speed could be reduced by 80%.
Date of Award1981
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn E.T. Penny (Supervisor)


  • variable
  • impedance bearings
  • large
  • rotating machinery

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