The current design trend of rotating machines like turbo-generators, compressors, turbines, and pumps is focused on obtaining both high dynamic performances and high versatility of machines in different operating conditions. The first target is nowadays achieved by equipping machines with tilting pad journal bearings. For the second target, State-of-the-Art researches are focused on the development of active systems able to adapt the dynamic behavior of the machine to the external environment and new operating conditions.

Typical causes of large vibration in rotating machines are faults, residual unbalance, resonance condition and instabilities. Aiming at vibration reduction, in recent years many studies are carried out to investigate different solutions; one of them is based on active tilting pad journal bearing.

In this paper, the authors investigate, by simulations, the reduction of shaft vibration by controlling the motion of the pads of a tilting pad journal bearing. The basic idea is to balance the exciting force on the shaft with a suitable resulting force of the oil-film pressure distribution.

In particular, a sliding mode controller has been considered and both angular rotation of the pads about the pivot and the radial motion of the pivot have been analyzed.

Sliding mode control guarantees high robustness of the control system in real applications that can be characterized by a strong non-linear behavior.

In the paper a general consideration about the bearing, the actuating methods and the control system have been provided. A numerical analysis of large size rotor equipped with active pads has been carried out in order to verify the effectiveness of the system in several conditions, even during the most critical operating phase, i.e. the lateral critical speed.

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