Flexible, rotating structures can experience complex dynamics, when torsional and lateral motions are involved. Oilwell drill strings form one example of such structures. In the present study, the authors investigate the influence of sinusoidal drive speed modulation on whirling motions of flexible rotors with contact interactions. For two types of drilling-like operations, one with drill mud and another without drill mud, the stability of motions is studied. A laboratory-scale drill rig is used to study the dynamics of a flexible rotor, which is driven at one end and housed within a stator at the other end. Experimental results are presented and discussed for different drive speeds. The findings suggest that the addition of drill mud in the annular space between the rotor and stator along with high-frequency modulation in the drive input helps attenuate lateral motions. The torsional motions appear to be influenced more by the high-frequency drive speed modulation. A three-degree-of-freedom model has been constructed to study lateraltorsional dynamics of a rotor-stator system. The model predictions are compared with the experimental data. The findings of this work have relevance for constructing practical solutions to control whirl dynamics of flexible rotors such as drill strings.

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