Squeeze film dampers (SFDs) provide structural isolation and energy dissipation in air breathing engines and process gas compressors. However, SFDs are prone to develop a flow regime where the ingestion of air leads to the formation of a bubbly lubricant. This pervasive phenomenon lacks proper physical understanding and sound analytical modeling, although actual practice demonstrates that it greatly reduces the damper force response. Measurements of film pressures in a test SFD describing circular centered orbits at whirl frequencies varying from 0 to 100 Hz are presented for fully flooded and vented discharge operating conditions. The experiments demonstrate that operation with low levels of external pressurization, moderate to large whirl frequencies, and lubricant discharge to ambient leads to the entrapment of air within the damper film lands. The experiments also elucidate fundamental differences in the generation of film pressures and forces for operation in a flooded condition that evidences vapor cavitation. Damping forces for the vented end with air entrainment are just 15% percent of the forces measured for the flooded damper. Further measurements at constant whirl frequencies demonstrate that increasing the lubricant pressure supply retards the onset of air entainment. Classical fluid film cavitation models predict well the pressures and forces for the lubricant vapor cavitation condition. However, prevailing models fail to reproduce the dynamic forced response of vented (open ended) SFDs where air entrainment makes a foamy lubricant, which limits severely the damper film pressures and forces.

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