Modern gas turbine rotors are usually designed as combined rotors in which disks are tied together by one central tie rod or several tie rods distributed along the circumference. This structure has the advantages in cooling design, light weight and processing assembly, however it brings some problems and challenges in predicting the dynamic characteristics of rotor. No matter how many tie rods are used to fasten the disks, the rotor is not an integral or continuous structure any more. The contact effects between contact faces and the pre-tightening forces of tie rods have great influence on the rotor’s dynamic behaviors. Traditional methods to calculate the critical speed in rotor dynamics such as Transfer Matrix Method and 2-D Finite Element Method (FEM), based on the integral and continuous rotor, fail to consider factors of the contact effects and the pre-tightening forces of tie rods. Although the 3-D FEM can exactly calculate the critical speed, it is still time and resource consuming to establish and calculate such complex three-dimensional structures, even on the most advanced computers at present. In this paper, the traditional 2-D FEM is improved by considering the contact effects and pre-tightening forces of tie rods. Contact faces in the rotor are dealt as elements with equivalent stiffness but without mass, thus the rotor-bearing system of gas turbine are composed of contact elements, elastic elements, rigid disk elements and bearing elements. According to the improved 2-D FEM, a program is developed to calculate the critical speed and unbalance response of gas turbine rotors. The equivalent stiffness, serving as an important input parameter in the program and elements in the stiffness matrix of the system, is mainly determined by the contact stiffness between contact faces and the pre-tightening force. To find out relationships between them, GW (Greenwood and Williamson) statistical model is used and the equivalent stiffness of complex contact faces is obtained. According to the results, certain curves showing the relationship between equivalent stiffness of contact surface and pre-tightening force are obtained. By these curves and the program, we can easily calculate the dynamic characteristics of gas turbine rotors with satisfying accuracy and less time. To validate this method, the critical speed of a real rotor of a certain gas turbine was calculated with the program and curves, and the results agree well with the measured data.

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