A crucial problem of turbomachinery is the oil film instability on increasing the angular speed, which is correlated with the asymmetry of the bearing stiffness matrix and resembles the hysteretic instability somehow. As a beneficial effect is exerted on the latter by the anisotropy of the support stiffness, some favorable effects have been recently found by the author also for the former, whence a systematic analysis has been undertaken. The instability thresholds may be detected by the usual conventional methods, but a detailed analysis may be carried out by closed-form procedures in the hypothesis of symmetry of the rotor-shaft-support system, which condition approaches the real working of turbomachines quite often. Altogether, the results point out an improvement of the rotor stability for low Sommerfeld numbers by softening and locking the support stiffness in the vertical and horizontal directions, respectively. Nonetheless, the partial support release on one plane implies lower instability thresholds for large Sommerfeld numbers, but this drawback may be obviated by a sort of “two-mode” stiffness management, with some vertical flexibility for heavy loads and full blocking for light loads. Otherwise, it is possible to combine the anisotropic supports with journal bearing types that offer favorable stability behavior in the range of large Sommerfeld numbers. Basing on approximate but realistic models, the present analysis elucidates the changes of the rotor-shaft unstable trend on varying the external stiffness of the supports and gives tools for a rapid calculation of the expected instability thresholds.

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