COMSOL Multiphysics Predictions of Pressurized CO2 Foil Thrust Bearing Characteristics

by Trevor Munroe
Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory

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This report discusses an analysis of gas foil thrust bearings used in the Integrated Systems Test (IST) turbomachinery. The IST is a 100 KW Supercritical carbon dioxide (S-CO2) Brayton cycle power conversion system currently under construction at Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory. Gas foil thrust bearing failures occurred in IST turbomachinery during operational testing at Barber-Nichols Inc. This paper presents preliminary results of a study to assess, by means of multiphysics analyses, the performance characteristics of the foil thrust bearing over a range of rotational speed in order to identify potential bearing failure mechanisms. The interaction between thermal, fluids, and structural effects was modeled using the COMSOL multiphysics code. This analysis demonstrated that COMSOL has the essential features necessary to assess the performance of gas foil thrust bearings.