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Title:
MULTIMODE PAD-TYPE HYDRODYNAMIC THRUST BEARINGS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1995/028574
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A hydrodynamic bearing that includes a carrier (10) and a plurality of bearing pads (1120, 1121) circumferentially-spaced about the carrier (10). The bearing has a multimode configuration for supporting a shaft that rotates in two or more distinct modes. The multimode bearing includes a carrier (10) for supporting two or more distinct sets of bearing pads (1120, 1121). Each set of bearing pads (1120, 1121) includes bearing pads (1120, 1121) that include a pad portion (1126, 1129) and a support portion (1124, 1125, 1130). The bearing pads (1120, 1121) of each set are supported by the carrier (10).

Inventors:
IDE RUSSELL D (US)
ZEIDAN FOUAD Y
Application Number:
PCT/US1995/002504
Publication Date:
October 26, 1995
Filing Date:
March 06, 1995
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
KMC INC (US)
IDE RUSSELL D (US)
International Classes:
B62D53/08; F16C17/03; F16C17/06; F16F15/023; (IPC1-7): F16C17/06
Foreign References:
US3183048A1965-05-11
US3132908A1964-05-12
US4702096A1987-10-27
US4997292A1991-03-05
Download PDF:
Claims:
We claim:
1. A multimode hydrodynamic bearing supporting a shaft for rotation in two or more modes, the multimode hydrodynamic bearing comprising: a first set of bearing pads; a second set of bearing pads; and a carrier having means for supporting said first and second sets of bearing pads; wherein said first set of bearing pads are closer to the shaft to be supported than the second set of bearing pads when the bearing is in a first mode of operation, and said first set of bearing pads deflect to the same height as the second set of bearing pads when the bearing is in a second mode of operation.
2. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 1, further comprising means for limiting deflection of said first set of bearing pads in said second mode of operation.
3. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 2, wherein spring means are provided between said first set of bearing pads and said carrier.
4. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 1, wherein said first set of bearing pads each comprises a flexible base portion.
5. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 4, further comprising a spacer ring disposed between each of the flexible base portions and the carrier for elevat ing the flexible base portion within a respective opening of the carrier.
6. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 1, wherein said supporting means comprises a threaded member securing each of the bearing pads of the first set of bearing pads to the carrier.
7. A multimode hydrodynamic bearing for sup porting a shaft that rotates in two or more distinct modes, the multimode bearing comprising: a carrier, the carrier having means for supporting a plurality of bearing pads; a plurality of sets of bearing pads, each set of bearing pads comprising bearing pads that include a pad portion and a support portion, the bearing pads of each set being supported by said supporting means of the carrier; wherein the bearing pad support portions and carrier supporting means for each set of bearing pads are substantially identical to that of the other bearing pad support portions and carrier supporting means in its set but different than the bearing pad support portions and carrier supporting means of the bearing pads of other sets such that each set of bearing pads provides support for a rotating shaft in the mode for which the respective set is designed but provides insignificant support for the rotating shaft in the mode for which the bearing pads of the other sets are designed.
8. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 1, wherein said plurality of sets comprises at least a first set of bearing pads designed for relatively low load applications and a second set of bearing pads designed for relatively high load applications wherein said supporting means of said carrier comprises openings formed therein, and the bearing pad support portions of said first set of bearing pads each comprises a flexible base portion received in a respective one of said open ings of the carrier.
9. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 8, wherein said openings formed in the carrier each com prises a bottom surface and side walls, a spacer ring being disposed between the flexible base portion and the bottom surface of said openings of the carrier, said spacer ring creating a space between said flexible base portion and said bottom surface of said openings for enabling flexing of the base portion during operation.
10. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 9, further comprising a securing member extending between the carrier and the support portions of the first set of bearing pads for securing the bearing pads within said openings.
11. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 10, wherein said securing member comprises a threaded member, said carrier comprises an aperture extending through the bottom surface of the openings corresponding to the first set of bearing pads, said support portions of said first set of bearing pads each including a threaded opening in a lower surface thereof, and said threaded member extending through said aperture into said threaded opening for securing the bearing pad within said opening.
12. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 11, wherein said threaded member creates a preload tension in said flexible base portion for adjusting the deflection characteristics of said first set of bearing pads.
13. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 12, wherein the bearing pads of said second set of bearing pads each comprises a support portion with a rigid base portion.
14. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 13, wherein the bearing pads of said second set of bearing pads are each secured to said carrier by a threaded member.
15. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 13, wherein the carrier openings for said first set of bearing pads are larger in diameter than the carrier openings for said second set of bearing pads, and said flexible base portions of said first set of bearing pads are larger in diameter than said rigid base portions of said second set of bearing pads.
16. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 8, wherein said supporting means of the carrier comprises openings in the carrier for receiving the sup port portions of the bearing pads of said first set of bearing pads, said carrier openings each having a bottom surface and side walls, and a spring disposed between each of the support portions of the first set of bearing pads and the bottom surface of the carrier openings.
17. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 16, wherein a threaded member extends between the carrier and the support portions of the first set of bearing pads for securing the bearing pads to the carrier.
18. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 16, wherein the carrier openings receiving the bearing pads of the first set each include a lip for engaging a lower surface of the support portions of the first set of bearing pads, said lips limiting the deflec tion of the springs.
19. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 18, wherein the pad portions of the first set of bearing pads are approximately equal in height to the pad portions of the second set of bearing pads when the lower surface of the support portions of the first set of bear ing pads are engaged with said lip of the carrier open ing.
20. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 19, wherein the pad portions of the first set of bearing pads are spaced slightly farther from the carrier than the pad portions of the second set of bearing pads when only a light load is applied to the bearing.
21. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 16, wherein said spring comprises a precision bevel spring washer.
22. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 21, wherein said spring is concave on a side closest to said support portions of the bearing pads.
23. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 22, wherein said spring has a diameter that is smaller than a diameter of the openings in the carrier below said lips.
24. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 17, wherein said spring includes an aperture through a center thereof, and said threaded member extends through the aperture of the spring.
25. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 8, wherein the pad portions of the first set of bearing pads have a loading surface made of a self lubricating material.
26. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of Claim 25, wherein the pad portions of the second set of bearing pads have a loading surface with a higher coefficient of friction than said loading surface of the first set of bearing pads in a dry operating condition.
Description:
MULTIMODE PAD-TYPE HYDRODYNAMIC THRUST BEARINGS

Background of the Invention

The present invention relates to hydrodynamic bearings. In such bearings, a rotating object such as a shaft is supported by a stationary bearing pad via a pressurized fluid such as oil, air or water.

In an ideal hydrodynamic bearing, the hydrody¬ namic wedge extends across the entire bearing pad face, the fluid film is just thick enough to support the load, the major axis of the bearing and the axis of the shaft are aligned, leakage of fluid from the ends of the bear¬ ing pad surface which are adjacent the leading and trail¬ ing edges is minimized, the fluid film is developed as soon as the shaft begins to rotate, and, in the case of thrust bearings, the bearing pads are equally loaded. While an ideal hydrodynamic bearing has yet to be achieved, a bearing which substantially achieves each of these objectives is said to be designed so as to optimize hydrodynamic wedge formation. The "optimum wedge" for any particular application depends on, among other things, the amount of load to be carried. If a heavy load is to be carried, a relatively thick fluid film is needed. Otherwise, a thin film is used to reduce fric- tion and the power losses associated with friction.

To a large extent, the problems associated with prior art hydrodynamic thrust bearings have been solved by the bearing construction described in U.S. Patent No. 4,676,668 to Ide, the present inventor. This bearing construction includes a plurality of discrete bearing pads press fit into a support portion. The bearing pads may be spaced from the support member by at least one leg which provides flexibility in three directions. To pro¬ vide flexibility in the plane of motion, the legs are angled inward to form a conical shape with the apex of the cone or point of intersection in front of the pad surface. Each leg has a section modulus that is rela¬ tively small in the direction of desired motion to permit

compensation for misalignments. These teachings are applicable to both journal and thrust bearings.

While the construction described in the present inventor's previous patent represents a significant advance in the art, commercial production has shown that improvements are possible. For instance, the shape of the bearing pads is relatively complex; and consequently somewhat difficult to mass produce, use in radial or journal bearings, and dampen. Moreover, the bearing performs optimally in only one mode of operation and its deflection characteristics are not actively controllable.

Summary of the Invention

The present invention relates to improvements in hydrodynamic thrust bearings of the type that includes a plurality of discrete bearing pads mounted in a carrier in a circumferentially spaced relation.

In particular, the present invention relates to a multimode bearing that operates optimally under two or more distinct sets of operating conditions, i.e., modes of operation. This can be done by providing two or more types of bearing pads in the carrier. For example one set of pads could be designed for low speed high load support and the other set of pads could be designed for high speed low load support. The pads of each type are evenly distributed around the circumference of the carrier (circumferentially spaced) . In one construction, the pads designed for low load support are slightly closer to the shaft portion to be supported so that, under low loads, only these pads operate to support the shaft. Under higher loads these pads are deflected away from the shaft and another group of pads supporting the shaft. One way of achieving such an effect is by mount¬ ing the low load pads on a flexible beam or membrane sup- port portion of the carrier which deflects under the higher loads. Alternatively, the pad support structure itself can be designed to deflect as desired. In this

way the bearing can support a shaft optimally under two, three or more sets of operating conditions.

The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of the present invention includes a first set of bearing pads, a second set of bearing pads and a carrier having means for supporting said first and second sets of bearing pads. The first set of bearing pads are closer to the shaft to be supported than the second set of bearing pads when the bearing is in a first mode of operation, and said first set of bearing pads deflect to the same height as the second set of bearing pads when the bearing is in a sec¬ ond mode of operation.

The bearing preferably includes structure for limiting deflection of the first set of bearing pads in the second mode of operation. In addition, spring means may be provided between the first set of bearing pads and the carrier and/or the first set of bearing pads may include a flexible base portion to enhance flexibility. The multimode hydrodynamic bearing of the present inven- tion may also include a spacer ring disposed between each of the flexible base portions and the carrier for elevat¬ ing the flexible base portion within a respective opening of the carrier. Moreover, the supporting means prefer¬ ably comprises a threaded member securing each of the bearing pads of the first set of bearing pads to the carrier.

Brief Description of the Drawings

FIG. 1 is a partial top view of another embodi- ment of a multimode thrust bearing according to the pres¬ ent invention.

FIG. 2 is a cross-section of the multimode thrust bearing of FIG. 1 taken along line 2-2.

FIG. 3 is a partial top view of another embodi- ment of a multimode thrust bearing according to the pres¬ ent invention.

FIG. 4 is a cross-section of the multimode thrust bearing of FIG. 3 taken along line 4-4.

Detailed Description of the Drawings

FIGS. 1-4 illustrate various forms of a multi¬ mode bearing construction according to the present inven¬ tion. Multimode bearing constructions are useful in applications involving discrete, widely varying, operat¬ ing modes. For instance, an application in which a shaft sometimes rotates at a low speed and sometimes rotates at a much higher speed, or an application in which the shaft is sometimes heavily loaded and other times lightly loaded. When the modes of operation vary widely, it is sometimes difficult to design a single bearing capable of performing optimally under each set of operating condi¬ tions. The multimode bearing construction solves this problem by providing separate sets of bearing pads for each mode of operation. Each set of bearing pads is circumferentially-spaced about the carrier and is capable of supporting the shaft by itself under one set of oper¬ ating conditions. Under operating conditions other than those for which they are designed, each set of pads pro- vides little or no support and the shaft is supported by another set of pads. In theory a bearing could, in this way, be designed to include any number of discrete bear¬ ing pad sets to support a shaft optimally under many distinct operating conditions. In practice, however, it is difficult to design the bearing to include more than about four such sets of bearings.

Generally, the multimode bearing construction is the same as the single mode construction except that the multimode bearing includes two or more distinct types of bearing pads and a selective support construction for causing each set of pads to support the shaft during the operating mode for which they are designed, but to pro¬ vide little or no support in other operating modes. One type of selective support construction is based on the principle of load differentiation.

Load differentiation is made possible by the fact that any two modes of operation that are suffi¬ ciently distinct to require a multimode bearing will

necessarily involve distinct pad loading, i.e., one mode will involve relatively high load and the other mode will involve relatively low load. The multimode bearings of the present invention are designed such that the set of pads designed to support the shaft in the low load mode are slightly closer to the shaft portion to be supported than the set of pads designed for supporting the shaft in the high load mode. Thus, under low load operating con¬ ditions, only the set of pads designed for supporting the shaft under such conditions operate to support the shaft. The low load pads are designed or mounted on a support that is designed to deflect away from the shaft portion to be supported under high load conditions. Thus, under high load conditions, the low load pads are pushed away from the shaft portion to be supported and the shaft is supported by the high load pads while the low load pads, in their deflected position, provide little or no sup¬ port.

Load differentiation can be provided in at least two ways. First, the support structure of the pads themselves may be designed such that the pads deflect away from the shaft in response to loads greater than the load for which they are designed. Alternatively or in addition, the carrier portions that support the low load pads may be designed to deflect away from the shaft in response to high loads.

FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a construction in which load differentiation occurs as a result of a combi¬ nation of the bearing pad construction and the carrier portion construction that supports the bearing pads. In the specific embodiment illustrated, the thrust bearing has alternating high load pads 1120 and low load pads 1121, and the carrier portion 10 has alternating small and large bores 1122, 1123 for receiving the high and low load pads, respectively. FIG. 2 shows two adjacent bear¬ ing pads as viewed in the cut-away section taken along line 2-2 in FIG. 1. The low load pads 1121 are con¬ structed so as to be slightly closer to the shaft portion

to be supported than the high load support pads 1120. In other words, the low load pads 1121 are slightly taller than the high load pads 1120. This difference in height is shown in Fig. 2 by numeral HD / . The low load pads 1121 are constructed with a support which is designed to deflect away from the shaft portion to be supported under high load conditions. In contrast, the high load pads 1120 are constructed such that very little deflection away from the applied load occurs when high loads are applied. The high load pads 1120 in this embodiment include a base portion 1124 received in one of the small bores 1122 in the carrier 10, and a relatively rigid body 1125 supporting a bearing surface 1126. A securing member 1127, such as a threaded connector, may be used to secure the base portion 1124 within the bore 1122 of the carrier 10. This arrangement provides easy replacement of the bearing pad by removing the securing member 1127. Alternatively, the base por¬ tion 1124 may be press fitted into the bore 1122 so that no securing member is necessary. The lower surface 1128 of the high load pad bearing surface 1126 is spaced only a slight distance X away from the carrier 10 so that only a limited amount of deflection of the high load pads will occur when high loads are applied to the bearing. Alter- natively, the lower surface 1128 of the high load bearing surface can be constructed so as to engage the carrier 10 to further limit deflection under high loads.

The low load pads 1121 in this embodiment are designed to deflect away from the shaft to be supported in response to high loads applied to the pad surface

1129. The low load pads 1121 include a base portion 1130 positioned within one of the large bores 1123 of the carrier 10. The base portion 1130 is relatively thin and flexible so as to flex when high loads are applied to the bearing surface 1129. The base portion is supported beneath its outer periphery by a precision spacer ring 1131. The spacer ring 1131 elevates the lower surface of the base portion 1130 from the carrier 10 to enable flex-

ing of the base portion. The spacer ring 1131 also raises the bearing surface 1129 of the low load pads 1121 to a position slightly above the bearing surfaces 1126 of the high load pads 1120. A securing member 1132, such as a threaded connector, is used to secure the base portion 1130 within the bore 1123 to keep the assembly together when no load is applied to the bearing surfaces. The securing member 1132 also provides a means for accurately positioning the height of the low load pads 1121 with respect to the high load pads 1120.

By making the bores in the carrier portion 10 larger for the low load pads 1121 than for the high load pads 1120, the base portion 1130 of the low load pads 1121 can be of a larger diameter, thereby providing a more flexible support. Alternatively, the bore and base portion diameters can be varied in accordance with a par¬ ticular bearing application to change the amount of load that will be supported by the low load pads 1121. The amount of load supported by the low load pads 1121 may also be adjusted by varying the thickness of the base portion 1130, changing the preload tension on the threaded members 1132, changing the material of the pad support, and so forth.

FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate an alternative con- struction in which load differentiation occurs as a result of the carrier portion construction and the arrangement for mounting the bearing pads to the carrier portion. FIG. 4 shows two adjacent pads as viewed along line 4-4 in FIG. 3. As in the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2 , the thrust bearing in this embodiment has alternating high load pads 1220 and low load pads 1221. The low load pads 1221 are constructed so as to be slightly closer to the shaft portion to be supported than the high load pads 1220. In other words, the low load pads 1221 are taller than the high load pads 1220. This difference in height is shown in Fig. 4 by numeral HD".

The low load pads 1221 and high load pads 1220 in this embodiment may be substantially similar (as shown

in Fig. 4) , or alternatively, may be different from one another. For example, the high load pads may take the form of any other suitable construction with an appropri¬ ate rigidity. The low load pads 1221 are supported on preci¬ sion bevel spring washers 1222 that can be arranged in series or parallel to provide a wide range of stiffness values. A lip 1223 is provided in the bore of the carrier 10 to limit the displacement of the low load pads 1221. The lip 1223 provides a bottom out feature of the low load pads 1221 when the low load pads are in line with the high load pads 1220. Thus, at extreme load con¬ ditions, the low load pads 1221 are bottomed out and the full load capacity of the thrust bearing is utilized. In other words, under extreme load conditions, the bottomed- out low load pads 1221 function together with the high load pads to enhance the full load capacity. Alterna¬ tively, the low load pads 1221 may be provided with a thin base portion so that when the pad bottoms out on the lip 1223, the base portion 1224 flexes in a manner simi¬ lar to the flexing of the low load pads 1121 in the embodiment of FIG. 2.

A support member 1225, such as a threaded machine screw, is inserted through the thrust carrier 10 into threaded engagement with the base 1224 of the low load pads 1221. The support member 1225 is used to keep the low load pad 1221 from coming out of the bore in the carrier 10 and to accurately position the low load pads 1221 with respect to the high load pads 1220. An adjust- able preload tension may be applied on the low load pads

1221 by the support members 1225. The support springs

1222 can also be designed as an integral part of the car¬ rier structure or as a variety of other structures with a flexural capability to provide flexible characteristics. On larger bearings with a large number of thrust pads, a bearing according to this embodiment can be easily modified to optimize operations at three or more load conditions. For example, on an 18-pad thrust

bearing, six pads can be designed with an intermediate spring support rate to handle loads between the normal and the high limits. The different spring rate can be obtained by using bevel spring washers of a different spring constant, by adjusting the preload tension pro¬ vided by the machine screws, by altering the construction of the pad support, or by a combination of these proce¬ dures.

The loading surface of the low load pads in any of the disclosed differential loading embodiments can be made of a dry or marginal self-lubricating material, (i.e., material providing a relatively low coefficient of friction) to allow dry operation at start-up which might be a desirable feature with shaft driven lubricating pumps. This feature can further reduce friction, and hence, the starting torque required in some applications. The self-lubricating material of the pads is less impor¬ tant for the high load pads since the lubricating system will typically be at operating pressure before a load is applied to the bearing surfaces of the high load pads.

Thus, the low load pads may have loading surfaces formed of a self-lubricating material to enhance dry operation, while the high load pads may have loading surfaces formed of a non-lubricating material to minimize construction costs and maintain durability.