Gas foil bearings (GFBs) satisfy the requirements for oil-free turbomachinery, i.e. simple construction and ensuring low drag friction and reliable high speed operation. However, GFBs have a limited load capacity and minimal damping, as well as frequency and amplitude dependent stiffness and damping characteristics. This paper provides experimental results of the rotordynamic performance of a small rotor supported on two bump-type GFBs of length and diameter equal to 38.10 mm. Coast down rotor responses from 25 krpm to rest are recorded for various imbalance conditions and increasing air feed pressures. The peak amplitudes of rotor synchronous motion at the system critical speed are not proportional to the imbalance introduced. Furthermore, for the largest imbalance, the test system shows subsynchronous motions from 20.5 krpm to 15 krpm with a whirl frequency at ∼ 50% of shaft speed. Rotor imbalance exacerbates the severity of subsynchronous motions, thus denoting a forced nonlinearity in the GFBs. The rotor dynamic analysis with calculated GFB force coefficients predicts a critical speed at 8.5 krpm, as in the experiments; and importantly enough, unstable operation in the same speed range as the test results for the largest imbalance. Predicted imbalance responses do not agree with the rotor measurements while crossing the critical speed, except for the lowest imbalance case. Gas pressurization through the bearings’ side ameliorates rotor subsynchronous motions and reduces the peak amplitudes at the critical speed. Post-test inspection reveal wear spots on the top foils and rotor surface.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.