The frictional windage losses associated with non-ventilated airflows in the air gaps between the rotor and stator of a high speed rotating machine can greatly influence the rotor outer and stator inner surface temperatures. The characteristics of the radial and axial air-gap flows have been of general interest in many engineering applications. A rotating air gap flow is very complex, and in general, can be categorized as a continuum flow, slip flow, and free molecule flow, depending on the ratio of its mean free path to the air gap dimension. For a continuum flow between concentric rotating cylinders, secondary flow of rows of circumferential Taylor vortices in the air gap due to centrifugal flow instability of a curved flow at relatively high rotating speeds will typically be formed. As the air pressure in the air gap drops significantly, rarefied gas flow, departure from continuum flow, occurs when the mean free path becomes relatively large compared to the air gap dimension. This paper has developed and summarized an analytical approach to predict high speed windage losses (rotor tip velocities up to 900 m/s) at low rotor cavity air pressures (0.1 torr to 10 torr). The predicted transient windage losses at various air pressures and high rotor speeds are compared with measured windage losses generated in continuum and slip flow regimes. The agreements between the predicted and measured windage losses are relatively well.

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