Magnetic bearings are widely used as active suspension devices in rotating machinery, mainly for active vibration control purposes. The concept of active tip clearance control suggests a new application of magnetic bearings as servo-actuators to stabilize rotating stall in axial compressors.

This paper presents a first-of-a-kind feasibility study of an active stall control experiment with a magnetic bearing servo-actuator in the NASA Glenn high-speed single-stage compressor test facility. Together with CFD and experimental data a two-dimensional, incompressible compressor stability model was used in a stochastic estimation and control analysis to determine the required magnetic bearing performance for compressor stall control. The resulting requirements introduced new challenges to the magnetic bearing actuator design. A magnetic bearing servo-actuator was designed which fulfilled the performance specifications. Control laws were then developed to stabilize the compressor shaft. In a second control loop, a constant gain controller was implemented to stabilize rotating stall. A detailed closed loop simulation at 100% corrected design speed resulted in a 2.3% reduction of stalling mass flow which is comparable to results obtained in the same compressor by Weigl et al. (1998) using unsteady air injection.

The design and simulation results presented here establish the viability of magnetic bearings for stall control in aero-engine high-speed compressors. Furthermore the paper outlines a general design procedure to develop magnetic bearing servo-actuators for high-speed turbomachinery.

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