This paper introduces a design and manufacturing of mesoscale flexure pivot tilting pad gas bearing with a diameter of 5 mm and a length of 1–2.5 mm for PowerMEMS (micro electromechanical systems for power generation) applications with power ranges of 100–200 W. Potential applications include power source for unmanned air vehicles, small robots, microgas turbines to be harnessed by very small solid oxide fuel cells, microblowers/compressors for microfuel cells, etc. The design studies involve scaling analysis, time-domain orbit simulations for stability analyses, and frequency-domain modal analyses for prediction of rotor-bearing natural frequencies. Scaling analysis indicates that direct miniaturization of macroscale tilting pad gas bearing can result in a large bearing number, which may render the rotor-bearing system unstable. However, the scaling analysis provides the baseline design from which the final design can be derived considering manufacturing issue. The generalized modal analysis using impedance contours predict damped natural frequencies close to those from orbit simulations, providing high fidelity to the developed numerical methods. It was predicted that the designed mesoscale tilting pad gas bearings would show very stable operation up to a maximum simulated speed of 1,000,000 rpm. The designed mesoscale tilting pad gas bearings were manufactured using X-ray lithography and electroplating.

Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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