In this paper, the authors present the results of recent developments demonstrating that ultra-high temperature compliant foil bearings are suitable for application in a wide range of high temperature turbomachinery including gas turbine engines, supercritical CO2 power turbines and automotive turbochargers as supported by test data showing operation of foil bearings at temperatures to 870°C (1600°F). This work represents the culmination of efforts begun in 1987, when the U.S. Air Force established and led the government and industry collaborative Integrated High Performance Turbine Engine Technology (IHPTET) program. The stated goal of IHPTET was to deliver twice the propulsion capability of turbine engines in existence at that time. Following IHPTET, the Versatile Affordable Advanced Turbine Engines (VAATE) program further expanded on the original goals by including both versatility and affordability as key elements in advancing turbine engine technology. Achieving the stated performance goals would require significantly more extreme operating conditions including higher temperatures, pressures and speeds, which in turn would require bearings capable of sustaining temperatures in excess of 815°C (1500°F). Similarly, demands for more efficient automotive engines and power plants are subjecting the bearings in turbochargers and turbogenerators to more severe environments. Through the IHPTET and VAATE programs, the U.S. has made considerable research investments to advancing bearing technology, including active magnetic bearings, solid and vapor phase lubricated rolling element bearings, ceramic/hybrid ceramic bearings, powder lubricated bearings and compliant foil gas bearings. Thirty years after the IHPTET component goal of developing a bearing capable of sustained operation at temperatures above 540°C and potentially as high as 815°C (1500°F) recent testing has demonstrated achievement of this goal with an advanced, ultra-high temperature compliant foilgas bearing. Achieving this goal required a combination of high temperature foil material, a unique elastic-tribo-thermal barrier coating (KOROLON 2250) and a self-adapting compliant configuration. The authors describe the experimental hardware designs and design considerations of the two differently sized test rigs used to demonstrate foil bearings operating above 815°C (1500°F). Finally, the authors present and discuss the results of testing at temperatures to 870°C (1600°F).

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