The paper discusses the redesign of a high-speed turbocharger for improved bearing life and mechanical operation. The modifications resulted in reduced oil leakage across the end seal, reduced coke buildup at the turbine, increased thrust load capacity, and improved rotordynamics. In particular, rotordynamic stability was improved by eliminating subsynchronous vibration at the operating speed. The redesign consisted of changing the bearings from a pair of combination journal/thrust bearings to a pair of journal bearings and a double acting thrust bearing at the center of the unit. The active thrust bearing was moved away from the hot turbine end of the machine. The thrust bearing geometry was modified for increased minimum film thickness, reduced metal temperature, and increased load capacity. Inlet and drain passages were revised for better oil flow distribution. Unit rotordynamics were improved by upgrading the journal bearings from three-axial-groove to three-lobe design. The upgraded unit kept the same footprint as the original design with only piping modifications required.

Extensive analysis and testing were conducted. Testing of the original and revised turbochargers showed improvements in the redesign with reduced bearing metal temperatures and improved rotordynamic stability. Theoretical results along with test data consisting of bearing performance and vibration data of the original and modified system are presented in this paper.

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