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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Previous projects > Industrial Processes > Catastrophic vibration and rubbing incidents in turbine engines and generators
Graphic element Catastrophic vibration and rubbing incidents in turbine engines and generators
Rubbing between blades and casings is not the cause of failure and damage in turbine aircraft engines and generators. Rather, it is the result of instability caused by bearing failure.

The operating efficiency of aircraft gas turbines and steam turbo-generators can be significantly improved by small reductions in radial clearances between the rotating blades and the turbine casing. For example, a 10 % reduction in working clearances in one aircraft engine will save about 13 million litres of fuel per year. But reducing clearance does hold dangers. In the past, service failures or damage has been blamed on vibration caused by rubbing contact between the blades and the casing.

This project examined the causes of potentially catastrophic vibration and rubbing encountered in turbines with small clearances. Partners demonstrated that rubbing contact was the result, not the cause of the problem. The cause was identified as instability due to horizontal forces on the bearings, aggravated by the low natural frequencies of the turbine blades. The solution lay in improved bearings and steam management.

The results of the project are highly important for understanding turbine failure mechanisms. Partners say Brite Euram was the catalyst for sound theoretical and empirical study, where previously there was only speculation and a degree of folklore.
Finally, fuel efficiency is a major factor in the competitiveness of European products against US competitors. Knowledge gained through this project will not benefit US companies as they use different bearings.

Cordis RCN: 6674
More information (Cordis database)
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