As gas foil journal bearings become more prevalent in production machines, such as small gas turbine propulsion systems and microturbines, system-level performance issues must be identified and quantified in order to provide for successful design practices. Several examples of system-level design parameters that are not fully understood in foil bearing systems are thermal management schemes, alignment requirements, balance requirements, thrust load balancing, and others. In order to address some of these deficiencies and begin to develop guidelines, this paper presents a preliminary experimental investigation of the misalignment tolerance of gas foil journal bearing systems. Using a notional gas foil bearing supported rotor and a laser-based shaft alignment system, increasing levels of misalignment are imparted to the bearing supports while monitoring temperature at the bearing edges. The amount of misalignment that induces bearing failure is identified and compared to other conventional bearing types such as cylindrical roller bearings and angular contact ball bearings. Additionally, the dynamic response of the rotor indicates that the gas foil bearing force coefficients may be affected by misalignment.
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