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Improve turbomachinery


By taking corrective procedures

Age-old problems of unbalance, distortion, misalignment, critical speed, looseness and
vibration due to stator-rotor contact still head the list as major causes of
turbomachinery outages. Here is what to look for, where to measure, and what to do.

SKF @ptitude Exchange TB02001
5271 Viewridge Court 9 Pages
San Diego, CA 92123 Published April, 2002
United States Revised
tel +1 858 496 3400
fax +1 858 496 3511

Improve turbomachinery reliability

.........................Table of contents 1.... 6 5....... 7 6.... Coupling Misalignment ................. Introduction .................................. 5 3...... Looseness Disguised Problem .... 3 2.................... Don’t Be Afraid of Critical Speed................................................................... 6 4.......... Prevent Rubs at All Cost ........................................... Watch for Distortion ............. 9 Improve turbomachinery reliability © 2012 SKF Group 2 (9) ....................................................................................................

made close to where the unbalances occur. rebalancing is performed before the rotor has completely and uniformly cooled after Figure 1 identifies common vibration the assembly of each component. However. attempt to rush matters may result in a however. Any flexural critical speeds. especially at ratios 1. Introduction of 2. There have also been many serious problems with long. In this article. Also. Unbalance. service component is assembled on the shaft. due to the need to balance in more than three planes. repeat balancing after each machines break down. This response. with strongly pronounced rotor promote even temperature distribution.5 and higher. and operated. disassemble the rotor and balance each High-speed turbomachinery is inherently component very precisely on a balancing reliable. are Extreme problems can occur if the identified and their solutions discussed. and the causes of these problems. can take up to 24 hours in an environment always shows a strong one cycle per that should be free of drafts and heat revolution response over the entire speed radiation.8 times the first flexural critical. one such problem. Turn the rotor occasionally to range. To correct such problems. depends on the location of the rough-running rotor that requires another unbalance. but on occasion. maintained. high critical-speed ratio. occur with machines running above 1. problems arising during and internal couples will not result. thin rotors running at a Improve turbomachinery reliability © 2012 SKF Group 3 (9) . even these arbour. Cooling problems. With interruptions can be minimized if units are this method. Serious unbalance problems can disassembly and rebalance from scratch. the balance corrections are properly installed. operation of high-speed turbomachinery.

Frequency vs. The same basic problem exists with integral- . Speed is plotted for common vibration problems.Figure 1.

setting off a series of the place if the pedestal has enough resonance problems. Piping forces and flexibility to absorb the thermal growth. can also be observed during the first start of shades. condensing turbines. and electric motors are usually not heat Under no circumstances should carbon steel stability tested at all. These. and break loose from the grout minimum. pumps. the pedestal may be so badly strained difficulty. There are some very transmit forces to the rotor. and even less for high speed operation. the thermal distortion. shims be used. Don’t underestimate the misalignment between driver and driven importance of lubrication under the sliding machine. radial clearance should not redistribution of stress over several years of exceed 1mil. There is not a single distinguishing At present. such as thermal expansion of the casing. Remedy: protect the bow should disappear. This is a a turbine. or by causing internal rubs or feet of compressors and at the exhaust of uneven bearing contact. continuously change. and alignment of the unit will machines. Thus. inducing it to large compressors that do not allow for any generate forces of its own. 2. in turn. and windbreakers. it will take a Foundations and baseplates that are temporary bow until the entire surface of the exposed to weather are notorious for rotor is evenly oxidized. If steel indicators on the shaft and outside diameter. Misalignment may be caused by that it will crack. They have unbalance and a wide variety of oil film and neither axial nor transverse keys. The best way to keep improper grouting or rust under soleplates.performed. there is not a satisfactory frequency for distortion. there will be a gradual general rule. Watch for Distortion Another cause of distortion is binding of sliding supports due to inadequate Distortion causes vibration by generating lubrication. behavior of a machine relatively inexpensive way to get a very during the first start. At this point. first run. problems with excessive radial clearance are common. As a welding. loads on casing alignment. especially where non-shrink grout is used. cannot be considered representative. Moreover. Turbine rotors also take a A similar type of problem occurs where the bow with a rapid change of steam or gas foundation or base is locally heated by temperature. Steel bases can warp badly from both Check radial clearance by mounting thermal stress and pipe forces. Improve turbomachinery reliability © 2012 SKF Group 5 (9) . Steam-temperature steam pipes or by poor insulation of the fluctuations should not exceed a rate of machine’s hot parts. causing serious vibration problems. If foundation distortion often cause this type of not. especially if they are long or large. hot soleplates approximately +8 degrees F (-13 degrees C) may buckle. The first time a rotor is heated. Piping forces push them all over supports can shift. This phenomenon foundation from weather by providing a roof. With gear-type couplings. and even during the significant improvement in plant reliability. are simply bolted to the pedestal. Here. Rotors for compressors. but 1x is the most method of keeping these compressors in common. as the feet friction induced stresses. baseplates are not stress relieved after and by jacking up at the spacer.

Foundation problems occur where units are mounted on flexible structural steel baseplates that generally have insufficient mass and unpredictable resonant frequencies. resonance.9 cm) dowels. Failures may occur in the seals. and of the wrong design (Figures 2 and 3). or shaft ends. such as a heavy Fi continuous mat supported on piles. if deflections are not phenomena. The remedy for resonance (internal Coupling misalignment can be caused by damping) is totally ineffective on critical thermal expansion of the casing support speed problems and can cause a friction structure. vibration frequencies are characteristically The difference between critical speed and two times the running speed. transmission. Misalignment causes friction or deflection This differs from resonant vibrations in that forces in the coupling and this. The columns should have This. gure 2. such as harmonic resonance controlled. by thermal distortion induced whirl. using ¾ inch (1. shims) so the center keys are not severely strained. bearings. by settling. or by piping forces that deflect the casing and its support. however. the shaft will ultimately bend. New foundation design should include a top slab of proper mass and rigidity. Turbine exhibits excessive amplification at critical speeds due to insufficient individual foundation to control resonant rigidity of bearing case mounting. should never be used for the support of rotating equipment. Don’t Be Afraid of Critical from moving to one side as a result of one Speed foot binding. frequencies of the structure should be tuned lubricant impregnated shims or Teflon so there isn’t interference with operation. Critical speed is the speed at which a shaft 3. For gear couplings. the shaft does not vibrate back and forth. Coupling Misalignment buckles. in turn. Secondary Consequently. By frequencies at running speed are also often properly distinguishing between the two. each unit should be mounted on an exhaust end. the bearings may be too small couplings. This will also keep the machine 4. and the resonant should be properly lubricated (using solid. requires re-dowelling after adequate rigidity in both vertical and each realignment. observed. Another strong frequency is the many rotor vibration problems can be number of coupling teeth times the running avoided. but resonance cannot be overemphasized. Minute unbalances can cause large shaft deflections due to centrifugal forces. Improve turbomachinery reliability © 2012 SKF Group 6 (9) . If a designer regards a critical as a speed. deflect and amplify these forces. brings the rotor and bearing system to but rotates with an ever increasing bow. may also be created. Further. common in building design.some semblance of stability is to dowel all frequencies and to prevent vibration four feet. of the foundation and baseplate. Also. sliding feet horizontal directions. Vibration plot of a turbine. The high thermal conductivity of steel adds considerably to the problem. uncoupled. Individual footers.

large shaft diameter. diametral. Looseness Disguised eliminated without extensively redesigning Problem the machine. the more criticals within operating speed range. then appear inaccurate and excessively rough. Figure 4. shoe bearings can experience these whirls if the bearing is not mounted in the casing with an interference fit of at least 2 mils total. Critical speeds are within operating speed range and safe for operation. Often these designer must make sure that amplitudes vibrations are misinterpreted for some other remain within normal limits. high speed machines with a wide due to looseness than to any other single operating range will have one or more cause. unbalances that occur during normal operation. The critical tight assembly becomes. Similarly. Vibration plot of 11-stage centrifugal compressor shows excessive amplification at critical speeds due to excessive bearing span resulting in a critical speed ratio of 3:9. These factors make it difficult to balance at operating speed. there is little reason to worry. Amplification at critical speeds is very low as the machine has large rigid bearings. A loose fit may work fine nine Improve turbomachinery reliability © 2012 SKF Group 7 (9) . The higher the speed. and short bearing span. Figure 3. If vibration levels are normal and there is no The end result could be that critical speeds pronounced sensitivity to unbalance. Even a unit with tilt (Figure 5). The API an oil whirl (frequencies approximately 43 to specs for turbines and compressors (API 612 50%) or a hysteresis whirl (frequency equals and API 617) include detailed procedures rotor critical speed). It can be perfectly safe and reliable to operate on certain well damped criticals. even with type of malady. There have probably been more problems Most large. Remember. everything that is not absolutely tight in the bearing assembly with a positive interference fit is suspect on a high speed machine. it must be insured that Typical symptoms of a loose assembly of unsafe amplitudes cannot develop from bearings or bearing liners look exactly like upsets or emergencies (Figure 4). Unbalance test run of turbine with artificial unbalance at coupling overhang. and often cannot be 5.

To verify this. check the friction The condition of the insulation. lagging. and to maintain the bearing. that ball seats are self-adjusting simply is not true. but the tenth case could be The bearing mounting should be checked one not easily forgotten. A different problem occurs with looseness of the casing on its supports. Figure 5. use approximately 1/2 mil/in (0. For large bearings. cracks in the foundation. Rotor response plot from API specs 612 and 617. Few people realize bearing position before the bearing is how important it is to prevent heat radiation ‘locked’ in place. It is also good practice to mount indicators around the machine to observe thermal expansion during warm up and cool down. warping. The normal procedure to check bearing crush is to put approximately 5 mils of shimstock between the bearing case split and plast gage (or small pieces of lead wire). Check all bolts in the support structure for tightness.2 mil/cm). The crush is determined by subtracting the shim thickness from the plast gage reading. as well as checking of seat uniform casing temperature to prevent contact and clearances. clearances in guide keys. The myth structure. Listening to the machine with a rod and feel for differential vibration Ball seat bearings are notorious for this type surfaces are other simple and effective of problem if the ball seat is not securely methods for finding looseness in the locked after bearing alignment. then tighten the bearing cap bolting. Improve turbomachinery reliability © 2012 SKF Group 8 (9) . remove an adequate amount of material at the bearing bracket split. Potential causes of trouble can be observed in this manner. etc. Also. If the bearing bracket bore is too large. first in case there is a sub-synchronous vibration. and vectors. Diametral crush should be 1-2 mils minimum. Machines with ball seat bearings heat shielding is always important to note require a thorough checkout of the actual when troubleshooting.times out of ten. Give special attention to clearances under sliding casing feet. Shims on the bearing should only be used in an emergency. make a thorough check for any gaps between feet and other mounting surfaces using a feeler gauge. This includes blueing of to supports and foundation. and the shim must be placed and secured to prevent blockage of the oil supply.

the appearance of the rubbed parts is characteristically For rubs. and sometimes the whole bearing case foundation problems. for metal. the stator clearance with enormously high Sharpening the tips of vanes and/or making frequency. may fall off. sinter aluminum. where inducer vanes of open also prevent dry whirl. frequencies can be almost mushroomed. No real harm is done until the enormous amount of energy is consumed in rotor metal contacts the stator metal. however. Improve turbomachinery reliability © 2012 SKF Group 9 (9) . Deserving special mention is dry whirl. or at least lessen its impellers. An prevent rubs. and the unit may actually slow course.. severity. felt of rotor and stator. To avoid this. and the shaft The purpose of all shaft vibration limits is to does not have bending stiffness. Prevent Rubs at All Cost is passing through a critical. the rotor just rolls around inside deflections at criticals and during upsets. rubs are not the cause of the down momentarily. such as piping and nuts. will example. In while taking into account abnormal this case. There may not be problem. Here. This can happen. They are characterized by the rolling contact rather than a sliding or wiping presence of many harmonic and resonant one. carbon. radially strike the stationary shroud. rather than wiped. Often the frequency is ultrasonic the stationary member of a soft or an because of the small difference in diameter abradable material. or thermal shock. but rather the result of another sound. such as honeycomb. or shrouds of closed impellers. allow enough radial clearance. indicating anything. Dry whirl is more apt to occur while the rotor 6. etc. Of this process. parts such as bolts and form of difficulty. frequencies that are all over the spectrum.