The constant development of aero engines towards lighter but yet more compact designs, without decreasing their efficiency, has led to gradually increased demands of the lubrication systems, such as the bearing chambers of the aero engine. For this reason, it is of particular importance to increase our level of understanding of the flow field inside the bearing chambers in order to optimize its design and performance. The flow field in such cases is of a complicated nature since there is a strong interaction between air-flow and lubricant oil together with the geometrical configurations and the shaft rotational speed inside the bearing chamber. The behavior of this interaction must be investigated in order to understand the flow field development inside the aero engine bearing and, at a next step, optimize its performance in relation to the lubrication and heat transfer capabilities. Such an effort is presented in this work where an investigation of the air-flow field development inside the front bearing chamber of an aero engine is attempted. The front bearing chamber is divided in two separate smaller sections where the flow passes from the first section partially through the bearing and the holding structure, to the second one where the vent and the scavenge are placed. The investigation was performed with the combined use of experimental measurements and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling. The experimental measurements were carried out with the use of a Laser Doppler Anemometry (LDA) system in an experimental rig modeling the front bearing chamber of an aero engine for real operating conditions taking into account both air-flow and lubricant oil-flow and for a varying number of shaft rotating speeds. The CFD modeling was performed with the use of a commercial CFD package. The air-flow inside the bearing was modeled with the adoption of a porous medium assumption. The experimental measurements and the CFD computations presented similar flow patterns and satisfactory quantitative agreement. At the same time the effect of the important parameters such as the air and oil mass flow together with the shaft rotation speed and the effect of the chamber inside geometry were identified. These conclusions can be exploited in future attempts in combination with the developed CFD model, in order to optimize the efficiency of the lubricant and cooling system. The latter forms the main target of this work which is the development of a useful engineering tool capable of predicting the flow field inside the aero engine bearing so as to be used for optimization efforts.

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