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International Journal of Rotating Machinery
Volume 9 (2003), Issue 3, Pages 197-217

Vibration and Stability of 3000-hp, Titanium Chemical Process Blower

1Robinson Industries, Inc., 400 Robinson Drive, Zelienople, 16001, PA, USA
2No Bull Engineering, Guilderland, New York, USA

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This 74-in-diameter blower had an overhung rotor design of titanium construction, operating at 50 pounds per square inch gauge in a critical chemical plant process. The shaft was supported by oil-film bearings and was directdriven by a 3000-hp electric motor through a metal disk type of coupling. The operating speed was 1780 rpm. The blower shaft and motor shaft motion was monitored by Bently Nevada proximity probes and a Model 3100 monitoring system.

Although the blowers showed very satisfactory vibration levels during test runs at the manufacturer's plant, the vibration levels in situ had always been higher than was desirable. After several months of monitoring showed ever increasing vibration levels, one of the blowers was shut down in order to diagnose and resolve the problem.

Several steps were taken to diagnose the problem: (1) The rotor was removed and the shop balance was checked and corrected. (2) The bearing support movement due to thermal expansion was measured. Then the shafts were misaligned in the cold condition in order to achieve near-perfect shaft alignment during normal operation. (3) The expected shaft vibration at the bearings was determined using lateral rotor dynamics analysis, including critical speed mapping. (4) A heavy sleeve was added to the blower shaft to increase the radial load on the drive-end bearing. (5) The metal disk type of coupling was replaced by a gear coupling. (6) The finite element and impact of the bearing support pedestal were tested to determine the stiffness of the bearing support. (7) The shaft movement was measured during a coast-down. (8)Tilting-pad bearings were evaluated as a possible replacement for the original standard sleeve type of hydrodynamic oil-film bearings.

The final solution showed the importance of coupling angular stiffness (often rarely considered in machine design), rotor dynamic analysis, and field alignment.