The paper introduces a thermohydrodynamic (THD) model for prediction of gas foil bearing (GFB) performance. The model includes thermal energy transport in the gas film region, and with cooling gas streams, inner or outer, as in typical rotor-GFBs systems. The analysis also accounts for material property changes and the bearing components’ expansion due to temperature rises and shaft centrifugal growth due to rotational speed. Gas inlet feed characteristics are thoroughly discussed in bearings whose top foil must detach, i.e., not allowing for subambient pressure. Thermal growths determine the actual bearing clearance needed for accurate prediction of GFB forced performance, static and dynamic. Model predictions are benchmarked against published measurements of (metal) temperatures in a GFB operating without a forced cooling gas flow. The tested foil bearing is proprietary; hence its geometry and material properties are largely unknown. Predictions are obtained for an assumed bearing configuration, with bump-foil geometry and materials taken from prior art and best known practices. The predicted film peak temperature occurs just downstream of the maximum gas pressure. The film temperature is higher at the bearing middle plane than at the foil edges, as the test results also show. The journal speed, rather than the applied static load, influences more the rise in film temperature and with a larger thermal gradient towards the bearing sides. In addition, as in the tests conducted at a constant rotor speed and even for the lowest static load, the gas film temperature increases rapidly due to the absence of a forced cooling air that could carry away the recirculation gas flow and thermal energy drawn by the spinning rotor, Predictions are in good agreement with the test data. A comparison of predicted static load parameters to those obtained from an isothermal condition shows the THD model producing a smaller journal eccentricity (larger minimum film thickness) and larger drag torque. A rise in gas temperature is tantamount to an increase in gas viscosity, hence the noted effect in the foil bearing forced performance.

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