Abstract

Means to decrease the energy consumption of tilting pad journal bearings (TPJBs) without affecting their performance and structural integrity are mandatory in a cost efficient operation. Reducing the lubricant flow supplied to a bearing is a distinct method to diminish drag power losses along with savings in oil storage and pump equipment. However, a too low flow remains questionable in industrial practice. Starved flow conditions produce hot pad surfaces that could lead to Babbitt failure; and under certain loads, generate subsynchronous vibrations (SSV). This paper aims to resolve some of the issues above via measurements of the load performance conducted with a four-pad TPJB configured as load-on-pad (LOP) and having its ends sealed or open to make flooded and evacuated conditions. Prior measurements were conducted with the same bearing under load-between-pads (LBP); see Refs. [1] and [2]. The nominal supplied flow (Q) of ISO VG 46 oil at 60 °C is proportional to shaft speed (max. 12 krpm: 62.8 m/s surface speed). In the tests, the flow Qs ranges from 1.5 Q to just ¼ Q, and the applied units load reaches 2.07 MPa. Compared to the flooded bearing, the evacuated bearing produces a slightly larger eccentricity across the range of flow rates. For a unit load = 2.07 MPa and shaft speed of 6 or 12 krpm, the highest pad subsurface temperature reaches ∼130 °C for Qs below 50% nominal. For both bearings, flooded or evacuated, drag power losses decrease to ∼30% as the oil flow drops from 100% to 50% Q. As the oil flow increases to 1.5 Q, the drag power increases ∼10% for both bearing types at 6 krpm and for the flooded one at 12 krpm, while the evacuated bearing shows a reduction of ∼7%. The drag power grows as the static load increases; the evacuated bearing producing up to ∼ 40% lesser power loss than the flooded bearing. Both bearings produce similar size direct stiffnesses though largely orthotropic, Kyy ≫ Kxx. Direct damping coefficients Cxx ∼ Cyy increase with shaft speed and unit load but dramatically decrease as Qs drops, in particular for the evacuated bearing. The current measurements and those in Refs. [1] and [2] demonstrate that LOP and LBP bearings can safely operate with 50% of nominal flow thus saving drag power, and without too large pad, temperature rises. Alas, too low Qs produces a significant reduction in the damping coefficient orthogonal to the applied load direction. The effect is most evident in the LOP evacuated bearing, which is most prone to show SSV Hash.

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