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Multiphysics Modeling of Spring-Supported Thrust Bearings for Hydropower Applications

F.X. Borràs1 J. Ukonsaari2 A. Almqvist1
1Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden
2Vattenfall Research and Development, Luleå, Sweden

Schematics of the 3 geometries (pad, collar plate, and fluid film).

Spring-supported thrust bearings are used in huge rotor dynamic machines, generally to support the shafts from the biggest hydropower generators. Any attempt of modifying yhis type of thrust bearing implies huge investment and is associated with some risks. The goal of the present work is to predict the performance of spring-supported thrust bearings. With the model it is possible to carry out experiments predicting the bearing performance when varying the external load, varying the angular velocity of the shaft, testing different lubricants, testing different compound materials or shapes, experimenting with different spring patterns, varying the oil bath temperature, etc. Hopefully, the usage of this model during design process of spring-supported thrust bearings can help avoid dangerous expensive mistakes.

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