During the start-up and shut-down of a turbomachine supported on compliant foil bearings, before the bearings have full development of the hydrodynamic gas film, sliding occurs between the rotor and the bearing foils. Traditional solid lubricants (e.g., graphite, Teflon®) readily solve this problem at low temperature. High temperature operation, however, has been a key obstacle. Without a suitable high temperature coating, foil air bearing use is limited to about 300°C (570°F). In oil-free gas turbines, a hot section bearing presents a very aggressive environment for these coatings. A NASA developed coating, PS304, represents one tribological approach to this challenge. In this paper, the use of PS304 as a rotor coating operating against a hot foil gas bearing is reviewed and discussed. During the course of several long term, high cycle, engine tests, which included two coating related failures, the PS304 technology evolved and improved. For instance, a post deposition thermal treatment to improve dimensional stability, and improvements to the deposition process to enhance strength resulted from the engine evaluations. Largely because of this work, the bearing/coating combination has been successfully demonstrated at over 500°C (930°F) in an oil-free gas turbine for over 2500 hours and 2900 start-stop cycles without damage or loss of performance when properly applied. Ongoing testing at Glenn Research Center as part of a long term program is over 3500 hours and 150 cycles.

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