Squeeze film dampers (SFDs) are effective means to reduce vibrations and to suppress instabilities in rotor-bearing systems. However, at operating conditions while traversing critical speeds with large orbital whirl motions, ingestion and entrapment of air into the thin lands of SFDs generates a bubbly mixture (air in lubricant) which is known to reduce the dynamic film pressures and the overall damping capability. This pervasive phenomenon lacks proper physical understanding and sound analytical modeling. An experimental investigation to quantify the forced performance of a SFD operating with a controlled bubbly mixture is detailed. Tests are conducted in a constrained circular orbit SFD to measure the dynamic squeeze film pressures and journal motion at two whirl frequencies (8.33 and 16.67 Hz) as the air content in the mixture increases from 0% to 100%. The analysis of period-averaged film pressures reveals a zone of uniform low pressure of magnitude equal to the discharge pressure, independently of the mixture composition. The uniform pressure zone extends as the mixture void fraction increases. Radial and tangential film forces are estimated from the dynamic pressures at two axial locations of measurement. The tangential (damping) force decreases proportionally with the mixture volume fraction, while a radial hydrostatic force remains nearly invariant. The experimental results quantify effects previously known by qualitative description only, thus providing a benchmark towards the development of sound theoretical models.

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