High speed foil bearings are currently used in increasingly demanding, high performance applications. The application under consideration is a 120 krpm natural gas turboexpander-compressor, which requires 38 mm (1.5 in.) foil journal bearings with high stiffness and load capacity to help enhance rotordynamic stability. This paper describes the development of the foil bearing for this application and includes measured stiffness and damping coefficients recorded on a high-speed dynamic bearing test rig. The dynamic test data were taken for several different foil bearing configurations with varying spring-element foil thicknesses, number of spring-element foils, and bearing shim thickness. All three parameters have a direct impact on bearing clearance. The influence of these different parameters on measured stiffness and damping coefficients and thermal performance of the bearings are presented and discussed.

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