Closed Brayton Cycle (CBC) and Closed Supercritical Cycle (CSC) engines are prime candidates to convert heat from a reactor into electric power for robotic space exploration and habitation. These engine concepts incorporate a permanent magnet starter / generator mounted on the engine shaft along with the requisite turbomachinery. Successful completion of the long duration missions currently anticipated for these engines will require designs that adequately address all losses within the machine. The preliminary thermal management concept for these engine types is to use the cycle working fluid to provide the required cooling. In addition to providing cooling, the working fluid will also serve as the bearing lubricant. Additional requirements due to the unique application of these microturbines are zero contamination of the working fluid and entirely maintenance-free operation for many years. Losses in the gas foil bearings and within the rotor-stator gap of the generator become increasingly important as both rotational speed and mean operating pressure are increased. This paper presents the results of an experimental study, which obtained direct torque measurements on gas foil bearings and generator rotor-stator gaps. Test conditions for these measurements included rotational speeds up to 42000 revolutions per minute, pressures up to 45 atmospheres, and test gases of Nitrogen, Helium, and Carbon Dioxide. These conditions provided a maximum test Taylor number of nearly one million. The results show an exponential rise in power loss as mean operating density is increased for both the gas foil bearing and generator windage. These typical “secondary” losses can become larger than the total system output power if conventional design paradigms are followed. A non-dimensional analysis is presented to extend the experimental results into the CSC range for the generator windage.

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