Oil whip is a self-excited vibration in a hydrodynamic bearing which occurs when the rotation speed is above approximately twice the first natural frequency. Because of this, the oil whip phenomenon limits the operational speed of a rotor system on hydrodynamic bearings. Below the oil whip threshold, the related phenomenon of oil whirl can cause large vibrations at frequencies below half the rotation speed.

A method is presented for stabilizing oil whip and oil whirl in a hydrodynamic bearing with an active magnetic bearing (AMB). The AMB controller is designed with μ-synthesis model-based robust control utilizing the Bently-Muszynska fluid film bearing model, which predicts the unstable phenomena. Therefore, the resulting AMB controller stabilizes the natural instability in the hydrodynamic bearing. Rotor speed is taken into account by use of a parametric uncertainty such that the method is robust to changes in running speed.

The proposed method is demonstrated on an experimental hydrodynamic bearing test rig. Details of the test rig and implementation of the AMB controller design are presented. Waterfall plots for the controlled and uncontrolled system are presented which demonstrate the improved stability limit.

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