Current applications of gas film bearings in high-speed oil-free micro-turbomachinery (<0.4 MW) require calibrated predictive tools to successfully deploy their application to mass-produced systems, for example oil-free turbochargers. The present investigation details the linear rotordynamic analysis of a test rotor supported on externally pressurized gas bearings. Model predictions are compared with the test rotordynamic response determined through comprehensive experiments conducted on a small rotor supported on three lobed hybrid (hydrostatic/hydrodynamic) rigid gas bearings. Predictions for the rotor-bearing system synchronous response to imbalance show good agreement with measurements during rotor coast downs, and manifest a decrease in damping ratio as the level of external pressurization increases. The rotor-bearing eigenvalue analysis forwards natural frequencies in accordance with the measurements, and null damping ratios evidence the threshold speeds of rotordynamic instability. Estimated whirl frequency ratios are typically 50% of rotor speed, thus predicting sub synchronous instabilities at lower rotor speeds than found experimentally when increasing the magnitude of feed pressurization. Rationale asserting the nature of the discrepancies calls for further analysis.

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