Flooded lubrication of tilting-pad journal bearings provides safe and robust operation for many applications due to a completely filled gap at the leading edge of each pad. Direct lubrication by leading edge grooves (LEG) located on the pads represents an alternative to restrictive end seals to ensure these conditions at the entrance to the convergent lubricant film. A theoretical model is presented that describes the specific influences of LEG design on operating characteristics. First, in contrast to conventional tilting-pad journal bearing designs, the LEG is a self-contained lube oil pocket, which is generally connected to an outer annular oil supply channel. Consequently, each LEG can feature a specific speed and load-dependent effective pocket pressure, which influences the pad tilting angle. Second, the thermal inlet mixing model must consider the specific flow conditions depending on the main flow direction within the film as well as the one between outer annular channel and pocket. The novel LEG model is integrated into a comprehensive bearing code and validated with test from a high performance test rig for a four tilting-pad bearing in load between pivot orientations. Within the investigated operating range good agreement between theoretical and experimental data is achieved if all boundary conditions are accurately considered. Additionally, the impact of single simplifications within the model is studied and evaluated. Finally, the test data are compared to results from the same test bearing with modified lubricant oil supply conditions in order to identify specific properties of LEG design.

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