On the future of controllable fluid film bearings

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This work gives an overview of the theoretical and experimental achievements of mechatronics applied to fluid film bearings. Compressible and uncompressible fluids are addressed. Rigid and elastic (deformable) bearing profiles are investigated. Hydraulic, pneumatic, magnetic and piezoelectric actuators are used. The ideas of combining control techniques, informatics with hydrodynamic, thermo-hydrodynamic, elasto-hydrodynamic and thermo-elasto-hydrodynamic lubrication techniques are carefully explored in this paper, considering theoretical as well as experimental aspects. The main goal of using controllable fluid film bearings is to improve the overall machine performance by: controlling the lateral vibration of rigid and flexible rotating shafts; modifying bearing dynamic characteristics, such as stiffness and damping properties; increasing the rotational speed ranges by enhancing damping and eliminating instability problems, for example, by compensating cross-coupling destabilizing effects; reducing start-up torque and energy dissipation in bearings; compensating thermal effects. It is shown that such controllable fluid film bearings can act as “smart” machine components and be applied to rotating and reciprocating machines with the goal of avoiding unexpected stops of plants, performing rotor dynamic tests and identifying model parameters “on site”. Emphasis is given to the controllable lubrication (hybrid and active) applied to different types of oil film bearings under different lubrication regimes, i.e., as tilting-pad journal bearings, multi-recess journal bearings and plain journal bearings. After a comprehensive overview of the theoretical and experimental technological advancements achieved in university laboratories, the feasibility of industrial applications is highlighted, trying to foresee the future trends of such mechatronic devices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMecanique et Industries
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)275
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Vibration control
  • Fluid film bearings
  • Friction reduction
  • Temperature effect
  • Stability

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