The paper presents a detailed computational study of flow patterns and performance indices in a dimpled parallel thrust bearing. The bearing consists of eight pads; the stator surface of each pad is partially textured with rectangular dimples, aiming at maximizing the load carrying capacity. The bearing tribological performance is characterized by means of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations, based on the numerical solution of the Navier-Stokes and energy equations for incompressible flow. Realistic boundary conditions are implemented. The effects of operating conditions and texture design are studied for the case of isothermal flow. First, for a reference texture pattern, the effects of varying operating conditions, in particular minimum film thickness (thrust load), rotational speed and feeding oil pressure are investigated. Next, the effects of varying texture geometry characteristics, in particular texture zone circumferential/radial extent, dimple depth and texture density on the bearing performance indices (load carrying capacity, friction torque and friction coefficient) are studied, for a representative operating point. For the reference texture design, the effects of varying operating conditions are further investigated, by also taking into account thermal effects. In particular, adiabatic conditions and conjugate heat transfer at the bearing pad are considered. The results of the present study indicate that parallel thrust bearings textured by proper rectangular dimples are characterized by substantial load carrying capacity levels. Thermal effects may significantly reduce load capacity, especially in the range of high speeds and high loads. Based on the present results, favorable texture designs can be assessed.

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