In this study, optimal designs of hydrodynamic journal bearings for 13.5 MW induction motor prototype is developed based on the design of experiment approach and best sequences method which involves entire rotor-bearing system multidisciplinary simulations. These simulations consist of bearing hydrodynamic characteristics calculation and optimization and rotor dynamics analyses for a rotor-bearing system. The results of rotor dynamics analyses are taken into account as the constraints during optimization.
Several journal bearings such as plain cylindrical with a different configuration of pockets, elliptical type, and 4-lobe fixed pad have been considered to select the most appropriate design for the application. The bearing clearance, length, diameter, pockets positions, lobe width, oil viscosity, are applied as design input variables. To find the bearing optimal design, following objective functions were considered:
1) Minimum oil film thickness. Optimal bearing clearance is designed to produce the maximum possible level of minimum oil film thickness in order to avoid or reduce possible metal-to-metal contact;
2) Maximization of the performance is done by minimization of friction power loss.
3) Rotor dynamics simulation for the rotor-bearing system is embedded in the optimization process in order to avoid resonances by providing sufficient critical speeds separation margins from operating speed.
The methodology for the bearing simulation is based on the mass-conserving mathematical model, proposed by Elrod & Adams and numerical solution for the equations is generated using finite difference method. Rotor dynamics analyses are performed using finite element method.
As the result of the study, optimized bearing designs for 13.5 MW induction motor were generated. Optimized bearings provide sufficient frequency margins for critical speeds for the rotor-bearing system and, at the same time, improved hydrodynamic bearing characteristics: maximized oil film thickness and increased efficiency compared to the starting design.
Through the considered bearings examples, the study shows how different parameters, such as bearing clearance, length, diameter, and etc., influence key performance characteristics like bearing minimum oil film thickness, friction power losses, rotor-bearing system critical speeds.