The following paper presents rotating test results and advances an analytical predictive fluid-structure model for a new type of gas lubricated thrust bearing fabricated using direct metal laser melting (DMLM). The bearing concept in the present study is a compliant hybrid gas thrust bearing that uses external pressurization to increase load carrying capacity, where the testing campaign in the present study was only focused on steady state static performance. The need for the bearing concept comes from enabling highly efficient supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) turbomachinery by replacing oil-lubricated bearings with process gas lubrication. Leveraging the process gas of the turbomachine for bearing lubrication results in lowered bearing power loss [1], simplified mechanical design, and allows for novel oil-free hermetic drivetrains resulting in an efficient emission-free system [2,3]. The new concept utilizes hydrostatic pressurization on individual tilting pads flexibly mounted with hermetic squeeze film dampers (HSFD). The paper focuses on rotating tests of a 173mm outer diameter gas thrust bearing in air up to 10krpm and hydrostatic inlet pressures to 365psi (2.52MPa). The influence of thrust runner speed and bearing inlet pressure on force deflection characteristics and load carrying capability of the gas film were experimentally evaluated. The present work also advances a predictive fluid-structure thrust bearing model using an isothermal ideal-gas based compressible Reynolds flow equation directly coupled to a lumped stiffness element possessing axial and rotational degrees of freedom. The rotating testing demonstrated load capability of 1,816 lbs (8.1KN), which equates to a thrust bearing unit load of 67psi (0.46 MPa). Gas film force-deflection curves reveal a nonlinear relationship between thrust load and film clearance. Comparison of film thickness values with the predictive model show good agreement under high load and inlet pressure, however deviate as load and pressure decrease. Load capability was shown to increase with increasing hydrostatic inlet pressure while the increase in thrust runner speed revealed a small decrease in load capacity.

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