The objective of this experimental investigation was to design and develop a high speed turbocharger test rig (TTR) in order to critically examine the whirl and frictional characteristics of floating ring and ball bearing turbochargers. In order to achieve the objective, a high speed TTR was designed and developed with the capability of reaching speeds in excess of 100,000 rpm and was equipped with speed and displacement sensors to obtain the necessary results for comparison between the two turbocharger models. The TTR was used to compare and contrast the whirl and friction characteristics of two identical turbochargers differing only by the support structure of the rotor system: one containing a floating ring bearing turbocharger (FRBT) and the other a ball bearing turbocharger (BBT). The TTR is driven by an industrial compressor powered by a six cylinder 14 liter diesel engine. This configuration closely resembles turbocharger operation with an actual engine and was able to operate in both nominal and extreme operating conditions. A pair of displacement sensors was installed to measure the whirl of the rotor near the end of the compressor. Whirl results indicated that the BBT was significantly more rigid and stable than the FRBT. Waterfall plots were used to compare the frequency response of the two turbochargers over the full range of operating speeds. The majority of motion for the BBT was the whirl of the synchronous excitation due to a negligible inherent imbalance with some larger motions caused by vibrational modes. The whirl of the FRBT consists of not only the synchronous motion but also subsynchronous motions as a result of oil film instabilities throughout the entire operating range of speeds. The TTR was also used to compare frictional losses within the bearings. A study of the run-down times after the pressurized air supply was removed indicated that the BBT has significantly lower frictional losses under all operating conditions tested.

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