Stability of a Rotor in Plain Bearings

  • Osami MatsushitaEmail author
  • Masato Tanaka
  • Masao Kobayashi
  • Patrick Keogh
  • Hiroshi Kanki
Part of the Mathematics for Industry book series (MFI)


This chapter explains the self-excited nature of vibration of a rotor caused by the destabilizing oil film force (oil whip or oil whirl); another self-excited vibration of a rotor caused by the destabilizing fluid force in seals and impellers (flow-excited vibration); and how to prevent the vibrations effectively by selecting appropriate specifications of plain bearings. Both of the unstable vibrations show two-dimensional whirl orbits of the rotor around the steady-state equilibrium position in the shaft rotating plane. The dominant component of the shaft whirl orbit is found to be the forward one, that is, orbiting in the same direction as the shaft rotation. The orbit size is sometimes enlarged when bending deformation of the rotating flexible shaft is added. In contrast with the unbalance vibration explained in Chap.  3, the whirl frequencies of the unstable vibrations are generally lower than the shaft rotating frequency, that is, subsynchronous, close to the natural frequency of the rotor-bearing system. These self-excited vibrations break out when the rotor-bearing systems exceed stability limits. When a linear vibration analysis is applied to the rotor-bearing system, the characteristic equation is derived in the form of an algebraic polynomial equation of the sixth degree from the equations of motion. When the Routh–Hurwitz criterion is applied to the characteristic equation, the stability limit of shaft speed can be obtained in the form of mathematical expression consisting of the rotordynamic coefficients of bearing oil film and the bending stiffness variable of shaft. The stability limit can be also found by means of eigenvalue analysis applied to the characteristic equation. In other words, when all the real parts of the eigenvalues have negative values for the given operating condition, the rotor-bearing system can remain stable. When at least one real part has a positive value, the system becomes unstable, starting oil whirl or oil whip. The effects of operating conditions and journal bearing configurations are demonstrated, and various effective countermeasures are derived. The flow-excited vibrations of a rotor by non-contact seals are characterized by dependence on load, because, with increase in load, the working fluid increases in pressure and flow rate, strengthening the destabilizing force (cross-coupled stiffness force) of the fluid flow. The magnitude of the destabilizing force is strongly dependent on the swirl velocity of the fluid in the direction of shaft rotation at the seal inlet. Consequently, one of the effective countermeasures against seal flow-excited vibration is to support the rotor by anisotropic bearings having oil film forces that give rise to elliptical whirl orbits. This is because the backward whirl component of the elliptical whirl orbit reduces the effect of the destabilizing seal force.


Self-excited vibration Oil whip Oil whirl Cross-coupled stiffness coefficients Stability limit Stability chart Flow-excited vibration Non-contact seal Swirl velocity Forward and backward whirl orbits Anisotropic oil film stiffness 

Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Osami Matsushita
    • 1
    Email author
  • Masato Tanaka
    • 2
  • Masao Kobayashi
    • 3
  • Patrick Keogh
    • 4
  • Hiroshi Kanki
    • 5
  1. 1.The National Defense AcademyYokosukaJapan
  2. 2.The University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  3. 3.IHI CorporationYokohamaJapan
  4. 4.University of BathBathUK
  5. 5.Kobe UniversityKobeJapan

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