One type of test performed for evaluating bearings for application into turbomachinery is the synchronous bearing response to rotor imbalance. This paper presents rotordynamic tests on a rotor system using a 70mm diameter damped gas bearing reaching ultra-high speeds of 50,000 rpm. The main objective of the study was to experimentally evaluate the ability of the damped gas bearing to withstand large rotor excursions and provide adequate damping through critical speed transitions. Two critical speeds were excited through varying amounts and configurations of rotor imbalance, while measuring synchronous rotordynamic response at two different axial locations. The results indicated a well-damped rotor system and demonstrated the ability of the gas bearing to safely withstand rotor vibration levels while subjected to severe imbalance loading. Also, a waterfall plot was used to verify ultra high-speed stability of the rotor system throughout the speed range of the test vehicle. In addition to the experimental tests, a rotordynamic computer model was developed for the rotor-bearing system. Using the amplitude/frequency dependent stiffness and damping coefficients for the ball bearing support and the damped gas-bearing support, a pseudo-nonlinear rotordynamic response to imbalance was performed and compared to the experiments.

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