Catcher bearings (CB) are an essential component for rotating machine with active magnetic bearings (AMBs) suspensions. The CB’s role is to protect the magnetic bearing and other close clearance component in the event of an AMB failure. The contact load, the Hertzian stress, and the sub/surface shear stress between rotor, races, and balls are calculated, using a nonlinear ball bearing model with thermal growth, during the rotor drop event. Fatigue life of the CB in terms of the number of drop events prior to failure is calculated by applying the Rainflow Counting Algorithm to the sub/surface shear stress-time history. The numerical simulations show that CB life is dramatically reduced when high-speed backward whirl occurs. The life of the CB is seen to be extended by reducing the CB clearances, and by applying static sideloads to the rotor.

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