The closed loop Brayton cycle with super critical CO2 (S-CO2) as an operating fluid is an attractive alternative to conventional power cycles due to very high power density. Foil gas bearings using CO2 is the most promising for small S-CO2 turbomachinery but there are many problems to address; large power loss due to high flow turbulence, lack of design/analysis tool due to non-ideal gas behavior, and lack of load capacity when they are used for large systems.

This paper presents high level design/analysis tool involving three-dimensional thermo-hydrodynamic analyses of radial foil bearings considering real gas effect and flow turbulence inside the film. Simulations are performed for radial foil bearing with 34.9mm in diameter lubricated with CO2 and N2 under various ambient conditions up to above 40 bar gauge pressure. The simulation results using the turbulence model still under-predict the measured data in open literature. However, the error between the prediction and measurements decreases as either speed or ambient pressure increases. In addition, general behavior of substantial increase in power loss with ambient pressure agrees with the measured data. The simulation results indicate the importance of detailed THD analysis of the foil bearings for prediction of power loss under severe turbulent condition.

A conceptual layout of rotor system for 10MWe S-CO2 loop is also presented along with realistic rotor weight and bearing load. A hybrid foil bearings with diameter of 102mm is suggested for gas generator rotor, and its power losses and minimum film thicknesses at various operating conditions are presented.

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