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Hydrostatic and hybrid bearing design

Hydrostatic and hybrid bearing design

W ROWE, BSc, PhD, DSc, CEng, FIMech E, MlProd

Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Head of Department of Mechanical, Marine and Production Engineering
Liverpool Polytechnic


London Boston Durban Singapore Sydney

Toronto Wellington

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given by the Publishers in their current price list.
First published 1983
Butterworth & Co. (Publishers) Ltd 1983

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

R o w e , W. B.
Hydrostatic and hybrid bearing design.
1. Bearings (Machinery)
I. Title


ISBN 0-408-01324-9

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

R o w e , W. B. (William Brian)
Hydrostatic and hybrid bearing design.
Bibliography: p.
Includes index.
1. Fluid-film bearingsDesign and construction.
2. Plain bearings (Machinery)Design and
I. Title.
TJ1073.5.R69 1983
ISBN 0-408-01324-9

Typeset by Phoenix Photosetting, Chatham

Printed in Great Britain at the University Press, Cambridge


Preface ix
Usual meaning of symbols


Application of hydrostatic bearings 1

1.1 Introduction 1
1.2 W h a t is a hydrostatic bearing? 1
1.3 W h e n should a hydrostatic bearing be employed?
1.4 Bearing selection 9
1.5 Materials selection 19

Basic theory governing pressure, flow and bearing forces 21

2.1 Viscosity 21
2.2 Density: consistent units 23
2.3 Compressibility 23
2.4 Viscous flow between parallel plates 23
2.5 C o m b i n e d pressure and velocity-induced viscous flow in a twodimensional non-parallel film 26
2.6 Flow through restrictors 27
2.7 Recess pressure and pressure ratio 29
2.8 Bearing load 30
2.9 Use of dimensionless data 33

Power, temperature rise and minimum power 35

3.1 Pumping power 35
3.2 Friction power 35
3.3 Total power and power ratio 36
3.4 T e m p e r a t u r e rise 37
3.5 Optimization 38
3.6 M i n i m u m p o w e r for low-speed bearings (K = 0) 38
3.7 M i n i m u m p o w e r for high-speed recessed bearings 39
3.8 Optimization of plain hybrid bearings 45

Thrust pads: load and flow rate 46

4.1 Derivation of load and flow data for plane thrust pads




Circular pad data 47

Square pad data 49
Rectangular pad data 51
A n n u l a r recess circular pad data 51
Conical pad data 54
Spherical p a d data 58
Multi-recess circular pad data 60
Multi-recess rectangular p a d data 62
D a t a for rectangular pad with radiussed recess corners
D a t a for any shape with thin constant land width 65
A n n u l a r multi-recess p a d data 66

Circuit design, flow control, load and stiffness 69

5.1 Definition of bearing film stiffness 69
5.2 Circuit design and sealing 71
5.3 Load and stiffness of a capillary-controlled pad
5.4 Flow control devices 76
5.5 G e n e r a l stiffness law for a bearing pad 86




basis of the design procedures and selection of tolerances

Z e r o or low-speed bearings 89
Relationships affecting tolerances 91
High-speed bearings 92
BS 4500: Specification for I S O limits and fits 94
Tolerance grades for hydrostatic bearings 94

Plane hydrostatic bearings 97

7.1 Use of the design charts 97
7.2 Choice of land width 98
7.3 Flow rate 98
7.4 Load 99
7.5 Stiffness 99
7.6 Single plane bearings 99
7.7 D o u b l e plane bearings having equal opposed pads 106
7.8 D o u b l e plane bearings having unequal opposed pads 110
7.9 Complex arrangements of plane pads (capillary compensation)

Partial hydrostatic journal bearings 122

8.1 Recessed partial journal bearings 122
8.2 G r o o v e d partial journal bearings 123

Recessed cylindrical hydrostatic journal bearings 132

9.1 Introduction 132
9.2 Flow in hydrostatic journal bearings 134
9.3 Load 138
9.4 Power and t e m p e r a t u r e rise 142
9.5 Land width ratios and design pressure ratio 143
9.6 Selection of tolerances 143
9.7 Selection of supply pressure, viscosity and clearance
9.8 Bearing film stiffness 147





Hydrostatic and hybrid plain journal bearings

10.1 Introduction 154
10.2 Selection of bearing configuration 155
10.3 Power ratio 157
10.4 Design pressure ratio 157
10.5 Clearance and clearance limits 157
10.6 L o a d 158
10.7 Flow rate 162
10.8 Power and t e m p e r a t u r e rise 163



Combined journal and thrust bearings (the Yates bearing)

11.1 Introduction 167
11.2 Principle of operation 169
11.3 Basic p a r a m e t e r s 169
11.4 Design procedure 171


Conical journal bearings 179

12.1 Introduction 179
12.2 Basic p a r a m e t e r s 181
12.3 Design procedure 182


Spherical bearings 187

13.1 Introduction 187
13.2 Basic p a r a m e t e r s 188
13.3 Central recess bearing 189
13.4 A n n u l a r recess bearing 190
13.5 Multi-recess bearings 191


Dynamics 195
14.1 Introduction 195
14.2 Static loading 196
14.3 D y n a m i c loading 196
14.4 Squeeze damping 197
14.5 Compressibility 199
14.6 Dynamic model of a thrust pad 199
14.7 Thrust pad with thin lands 202
14.8 Journal bearings 205


Experimental methods and testing 215

15.1 Introduction 215
15.2 Flat pad rig 216
15.3 Cylindrical journal bearing rig 218
Appendix A Design procedures and examples 223
A l Single plane pads 224
A 2 Equal opposed pads 226
A 3 U n e q u a l opposed pads 228
A 4 Journal bearings (general procedure) 230
A 5 Complex arrangements of plane pads 232
A 6 Capillary restrictor 234




A 7 Orifice restrictor 234
A 8 Slot restrictor (single and double entry)


Appendix References and design bibliography

B l References 236
B2 Design bibliography 237




The special qualities of hydrostatic bearings frequently afford a simple and

convenient solution to bearing problems experienced with particular
machines. Sometimes the only sure m e t h o d of achieving the required performance is to use a hydrostatic bearing. H o w e v e r , the designer is not
always experienced in the principles of hydrostatic lubrication and has difficulty in obtaining authoritative guidance presented in a simple m a n n e r .
This book has been written with this problem in mind and is based on the
author's personal experience over many years in bearing design and testing, in running courses on this subject for industry, and in writing articles
for the technical press.
Theory has been kept to an elementary level and therefore the book
should serve as a useful introduction to the subject for engineers who have
left academic study behind t h e m and find they need to refresh themselves
on the relevant principles of fluids. It should also prove useful to students
of engineering design and lubrication. T h e r e is a growing awareness in universities, polytechnics and colleges of the importance of tribology for the
reliability and effectiveness of all moving devices and mechanisms. This
book and the companion work on externally pressurized gas bearings
(Aerostatic bearing design, Stout and Pink, Butterworths, 1983) cover
important sectors of thin-film lubrication and machine design.
A special acknowledgement is due to a former colleague, D r J. P. O ' D o noghue, who died in January 1980. A n early substantial paper on hydrostatic bearing design was written jointly with J o h n and published in Tribology
International in February 1969. Acknowledgements are also due to other
colleagues, particularly D r . J. Stout, D r D . Koshal and Mr F. S. Chong
with whom the work of analysis, computing and experimental investigation
was further developed. T h e considerable volume of experimental work
undertaken over the years has contributed to an understanding of where
theory fits in with reality and, m o r e importantly, where it diverges.
A great deal of attention has been paid to ensure accuracy in the design
guidance given in this book. B u t , however carefully the text has been
checked, some readers may find the occasional ambiguity. T h e technique
of presenting and explaining principles wherever possible, followed by


procedures and examples, allows the reader to cross-check the writer's

intention and hence overcome any such problems.

W. B . R o w e
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Liverpool Polytechnic

Usual meaning of symbols




value for capillary control
value for diaphragm control (or sometimes diametral)
friction (as in friction p o w e r Hf)
inner or sometimes inlet
m a x i m u m condition
particular design condition
(or sometimes value for orifice control)
pumping (as in pumping power Hp)
condition at bearing recess
(or sometimes radial value)
supply (or sometimes value for slot control)
total (or sometimes axial thrust value or sometimes transition)
first, second recess or bearing, etc
dimensionless value, for example







leakage flow land width
width of restrictor slot
total projected bearing area for load or
total sliding area for friction
effective bearing area


Usual meaning of symbols


= Af/D














friction area for journals or flat pads

recess area
inter-recess land width
leakage flow rate from one recess
bearing width
specific heat capacity or width of axial
slot in slotted journal bearing
damping or leakage flow land width
(or sometimes recess width)
diametral clearance
a factor for flow through an orifice
diameter of capillary
diameter of orifice
journal or other diameter
journal eccentricity
area ratio
natural frequency in H z
film thickness
film thickness when
power dissipation
friction power
pumping power
total power
set / = 1 , 2, 3 . . .
s e t y = l , 2, 3 .
required for non-consistent sets of
power ratio (K=Hf/Hp)
or bulk m o d
ulus of liquid
capillary factor (Kc=^





P ^^

capillary length
bearing length
lower clearance ratio limit, Cd/D
n u m b e r of recesses
n u m b e r of slots per row
rotational speed in rev/s
rotational speed at which K= 1
recess pressure

Usual meaning of symbols




average pressure on journal bearing


constant pressure at supply source


flow rate



radius, resistance or perfect gas constant
Sommerfeld hybrid n u m b e r for flatpad bearings:

for journal bearings:


value of 5 h based on bearing shape for

flat pads when K= 1

for journal bearings when



, y



axial thrust force
m a x i m u m t e m p e r a t u r e rise
journal coordinates defined so that
lies along line of eccentricity
surface speed
u p p e r clearance ratio limit, CaID
small film force additional to static value
static bearing film force
(radial value for journal bearings)
small displacements from static position expressed as journal coordinates
defined in horizontal and vertical
film thickness
length of restrictor slot
impedence ( = p r e s s u r e difference-rflow rate)
slot restrictor film thickness
semi-cone angle


Usual meaning of symbols






pressure ratio when
circumferential flow factor for journal
prefix denoting an incremental value
eccentricity ratio
dynamic viscosity
damping ratio
angular position around journal bearing or angle of inter-recess land
transfer function of bearing film
bearing film stiffness
kinematic viscosity
density of the fluid
viscous shear stress or time constant
attitude angle between W and e in a
journal bearing
frequency of excitation in rad/s


Application of hydrostatic bearings

1.1 Introduction
A hydrostatic bearing has a great attraction to the engineer because
machine parts supported on hydrostatically lubricated slideways or shafts
move with incomparable smoothness.
This apparent perfection of motion derives from the complete separation
of the solid sliding surfaces with a fluid film. A t no point do the solid surfaces m a k e any physical contact. This m e a n s to say the thin fluid film separating the surfaces is always larger than the height of any surface irregularities and as a result there is a complete absence of sticking friction. A mass
supported on a hydrostatic bearing will silently glide down the smallest
inclination; an effect which is most striking with very large machines.
It appears that the hydrostatic bearing was invented (Ref. 1.1) in 1851 by
L. D . Girard, who employed high-pressure water-fed bearings for a system
of railway propulsion. Since that date there have been h u n d r e d s of patents
and publications dealing with different designs and incorporating novel
features. While some of these designs are potentially useful, many others
introduce complexity rather than simplicity and are destined to remain in
the archives. This text concentrates on the most c o m m o n configurations in
use and particularly those which have proved to be attractive to designers
for effectiveness and simplicity.

1.2 What is a hydrostatic bearing?

In a hydrostatic bearing the surfaces are separated by a film of liquid forced
between them under pressure. T h e pressure is generated by an external
p u m p . Because the pressurized film is not produced by the relative motion
of the bearing surfaces, a complete film is present whenever the bearing is
pressurized, even at zero speed. In addition, the friction due to viscous
shear decreases to zero at zero speed.
The term 'hydrostatic' is the c o m m o n and generally employed word used
to describe externally pressurized bearings with flow control devices. Hydrostatic bearings should not be confused with pressure-fed hydrodynamic

Application of hydrostatic bearings

bearings, where the pressure is maintained to ensure an ample flow of lubricant and does not directly act to support the applied load on the bearing.
A simple example of a hydrostatic bearing is the circular pad with an
orifice restrictor for flow control, as shown in Figure 1.1. Liquid at a constant supply pressure P s is p u m p e d into the bearing. The liquid first passes
through the orifice where the dissipation of part of the pressure energy
causes the pressure to be reduced on entry into the recess of the bearing
pad. The recess is usually quite d e e p so that it offers little resistance to
flow. T h e pressure in the recess may therefore be assumed to remain constant throughout the recess volume. T h e flow passes on through the recess
and leaves by passing through the thin gap between the bearing land and
the opposite bearing surface. The bearing gap restricts the flow, hence dissipating the remaining pressure energy. T h e pressure therefore reduces as
it passes across the bearing land and reaches atmospheric or ambient pressure at the outside edge.

supply p r e s s u r e ^

orifice restrictor

Figure 1.1 Circular hydrostatic pad with orifice flow control

What is a hydrostatic bearing?

The film pressures acting on the recess and on the bearing land oppose
the applied load on the bearing pad and maintain the separation of the surfaces.
It has been mentioned that the dissipation of energy in the orifice restrictor causes the recess pressure to be lower than the supply pressure. This is
essential because the recess pressure must adjust to balance variations in
the applied load on the bearing.
The way in which the orifice restrictor causes the recess pressure to vary
with applied load can be d e m o n s t r a t e d by considering two extreme cases.
In the first case, a very high applied load forces the bearing surfaces
together and prevents flow out of the bearing. A s the flow rate through the
orifice decreases to z e r o , there is no longer any pressure reduction across
the orifice. T h e recess pressure therefore rises until it equals the supply
pressure. T h e second extreme is when the applied load is reduced to zero.
In this case the bearing gap will become very large so that the only resistance to flow is that offered by the orifice restrictor. This causes the flow
rate to increase until the pressure d r o p across the orifice is sufficient to
reduce the recess pressure to atmospheric or ambient pressure.
Although in this illustration an orifice restrictor, which is a very compact
device, is employed, there are many other types of flow control device of
which perhaps the most c o m m o n is the laminar flow group of restrictors,
such as the capillary and the slot restrictor.
In order to calculate the magnitude of the applied load which can be supported, it is necessary to establish the pressure distribution in the bearing
and then sum the product of pressure times area over the bearing surface.
Figure 1.2 shows two examples of this process based on the assumption that
the pressures do not vary along the width B. This assumption will allow
approximate answers to be found for very wide bearings. T h e entry restrictors are assumed to be slots designed so as to reduce the inlet pressure px to
a value equal to /iPs at the inlet to the bearing lands.
T h e first example is a plain bearing pad having no recess. T h e pressure
reduces uniformly from inlet to outlet in the region between the bearing
lands. T h e pressure distribution is a triangle of maximum height px = ViP*
and average height APs. T h e bearing film force is therefore W =
In the second example, a relatively d e e p recess allows the inlet pressure px
to spread uniformly throughout the recess. For a recess of length b and
width B, the contribution to the load is pxbB. T h e total load includes the
contribution due to the triangular pressure distribution on the lands of
length /. Each of these lands contributes a load of VipJB. T h e total bearing
film force is therefore
W = pxlB

+ PxbB



Hydrostatic bearings which are externally pressurized should be distinguished from hydrodynamic bearings which are self-acting. The distinction
is illustrated in Figure 1.3 for typical examples of each type of cylindrical
journal bearings.
The way in which the hydrostatic bearing works is quite different from
the hydrodynamic bearing. This is immediately apparent from the different
pressure distributions for each type.
In the hydrostatic journal bearing example shown in Figure 1.3, liquid is

Figure 1.2 Examples of load and pressure relationships based on one-dimensionalflowthrough slots

What is a hydrostatic bearing?

Pressure-fed bearings


Hybrid =




Pressures at = 0

Pressures at 0

Figure 1.3 Hydrostatic, hydrodynamic and hybrid journal bearings

introduced to four recesses through separate entry ports. Such a bearing

would normally be designed so that if the centre of the shaft were concentric with the centre of the bearing, t h e pressures would be almost constant
around the shaft. Restrictors are placed in the supply lines from the p u m p
to each recess so that t h e magnitude of the recess pressures will normally
be some value less than the p u m p e d supply pressure. T h e designer usually
aims for a value of recess pressure which is half the supply pressure for the
concentric condition, i.e. pr = ViPs. T h e reason for this, as in the case of
the thrust p a d , is to provide for varying recess pressure with applied load
on the bearing. T h e effect in a journal bearing may be demonstrated by
considering what h a p p e n s when t h e centre of t h e shaft is displaced from
the centre of the bearing. O n o n e side of the bearing the gap between the
two surfaces is reduced, while on the other side of the bearing the gap is
increased. O n the side w h e r e there is a reduction in g a p , the flow from the
recess is restricted and the recess pressure on this side of the bearing rises.
If the shaft is completely displaced to o n e side of the bearing, the gap will
be almost completely closed, so that the recess pressure will be almost
equal to the supply pressure. O n the opposite side of the bearing, however,
where the gap is increased, the restriction to flow from the recess is
reduced to a low value and hence the recess pressure is reduced. T h e
reduction in pressure on o n e side of the bearing accompanied by an
increase in pressure on the other side m e a n that the pressures on the o p p o site sides of the shaft are n o longer in balance. T h u s , both sides of the bearing contribute to the net bearing film force to withstand the externally
applied force on the shaft. T h e net bearing film force must, of course, be
equal and opposite to the externally applied force.
T h e main p a r a m e t e r s which govern the hydrostatic load are the supply
pressure and the projected bearing area so that it is possible to state for
journal bearings that

Application of hydrostatic bearings

W is proportional to PSLD
for a purely hydrostatic load

The hydrodynamic bearing also illustrated in Figure 1.3 is said to be 'selfacting' because the hydrodynamic pressures which separate the two bearing surfaces are generated as a consequence of the m o v e m e n t of the bearing surfaces. In the example shown, the surface of the journal, i.e. the
moving element, drags liquid by means of viscous forces into the converging gap region between the two bearing surfaces. T h e converging gap
region occurs on one half of the bearing between the maximum gap on o n e
side and the minimum gap on the other. T h e result of the liquid being dragged into a m o r e confined region is to create a back pressure. This build-up
of pressure produces a bearing film force separating the two solid surfaces.
The resultant of the bearing film forces which act normally to the shaft at
each point around the bearing will be equal and opposite to the externally
applied force on the shaft. For a given eccentricity of the journal within the
bearing, the pressure force giving rise to the hydrodynamic load is primarily d e p e n d e n t on speed, viscosity and bearing area. In a form suitable
for journal bearings this may be stated as follows:
W is proportional

to NLD

for a purely hydrodynamic


It is immediately apparent that when the speed in a hydrodynamic journal

bearing is zero, i.e. = 0, there is no bearing film force. This is the condition on starting when any externally applied force must be reacted by contact between the two solid surfaces. For this reason, starting and stopping
are the chief causes of wear in correctly designed hydrodynamic bearings.
This problem does not arise in hydrostatic bearings, where the external
pressure is switched on before start-up.
In practice, hydrostatic bearings are often designed to operate at
relatively high rotational speeds. T h e applied force on the journal will then
be reacted by the combined effect of hydrodynamic and hydrostatic bearing film pressures. T o be accurate, the bearing should then be described as
'hybrid'. Hybrid bearings which are designed to take maximum advantage
of hydrostatic and hydrodynamic effects offer some very attractive features, such as zero start-up wear, good bearing film stiffness at zero speed
and high overload capacity when operating at full speed. T w o such bearings are illustrated in Figure 1.4 and it will be observed that these bearings
have plain surfaces, i.e. recesses in the bearing surfaces are avoided in
order to maximize the hydrodynamic effect. Hybrid bearings are conveniently designed with slot-entry or hole-entry restrictors.

1.3 When should a hydrostatic bearing be employed?

Most hydrostatic bearings require an additional p u m p to be incorporated
into the machine in order to supply liquid under pressure to the bearing.
This and the associated oil reservoir may increase the cost of an application
compared with another type of bearing which might not require an external

When should a hydrostatic bearing be employed?

supply. In some cases, however, there will be a high-pressure source of

liquid used for a n o t h e r function in the machine which will be capable of
also supplying the bearing system. This would often be the case if the
machine has hydraulic e q u i p m e n t for actuation, clamping or spindle

pocketed orifice


Figure 1.4 Typical plain hybrid bearing configurations: (a) hole-entry

journal bearing; (b) slot-entry journal bearing

Application of hydrostatic bearings

Consideration should be given to space and cost requirements at an early

stage of design. Such considerations are often of over-riding importance
when manufacture in large quantities is envisaged. T h e converse tends to
be more relevant when only one or two special machines are required. In
this case, hydrostatic bearings may prove to be less expensive as well as
offering superior performance and reliability. In addition to the space and
cost requirements of the external supply, account needs to be taken of the
requirement for control restrictors and effective filtration to prevent blockages in the supply. A cost disadvantage, if there is o n e , is relatively less
important in a machine where the total cost is very large, where performance and reliability are much m o r e important. Similarly, space and weight
requirements are less important if the machine is stationary or very large.
A m o n g the attractive features of hydrostatic bearings is the ability to
operate at zero speed and high speed with any load capacity, since load
capacity is determined by the supply pressure. In addition, high bearing
film stiffness may be achieved, which is a measure of the force necessary to
produce a small change in film thickness. It is even possible to design the
stiffness independently of the load. This allows the designer to determine
the bearing performance to suit the requirements of the machine.
O t h e r features not previously mentioned are low starting t o r q u e , high
accuracy of location, good dynamic stability and cool operation with suitable design. A further feature is that selection of bearing materials is
usually less critical than with most other bearing types.
In view of these considerations, it is not surprising that hydrostatic bearings have been employed very successfully for many years in a n u m b e r of
large low-speed machines which require high load support and low friction
in order to achieve high precision in positioning. In the U S A , for e x a m p l e ,
several radio telescopes have been supported on hydrostatic bearings. A
notable example includes the 63 m (210 ft) diameter, Goldstone radio
T h e machine tool industry has m a d e extensive use of hydrostatic bearings, where they have proved to be reliable and predictable and have often
improved the performance of the machine beyond the capability of any
other bearing. T h e exceptions have been where insufficient attention has
been given to system design, including filtration and the prevention of restrictor blockage.
In machine tools it is important that the bearings are not subject to wear
which makes it impossible to maintain machining tolerances and production rate. W e a r also reduces the resistance to chatter in metal-cutting
operations. Such features are particularly important for automatically controlled machine tools.
O t h e r applications include support bearings for experimental apparatus
such as bearing test rigs and d y n a m o m e t e r s , and also bearings and seals in
hydraulic motors where a ready source of pressurized oil is available.
A feature of hydrostatic bearings which could be important in some
applications is the ability to achieve a strong vibration damping action.
(This has been applied for noise damping.)
T h e power requirements of the p u m p are not necessarily large or even
proportional to the size of the machine. In fact, the power requirements
are a function of the product of speed squared and friction area. A typical

When should a hydrostatic bearing be employed?

example of a journal bearing 100 m m (4 in) diameter, shaft rotational

speed 5 rev/s (300 rev/min) with axial thrust of 9000 (2000 lbf) requires a
power of 40-80 W (0.05-0.10 h p ) .
T h e application of plain hybrid hydrostatic/hydrodynamic bearings has
not received such widespread consideration in the technical and scientific
literature as purely hydrostatic or purely hydrodynamic bearings. Hybrid
bearings, however, exhibit interesting and useful properties. A plain hybrid bearing when designed appropriately performs as a superior hydrodynamic bearing at speed with the attractive features of a hydrostatic bearing
at low and high speeds. These features include good load capacity and
stiffness achievable at any speed, improved dynamic stability compared to
hydrodynamic bearings and cool operation. Additional features are the
ability to employ higher viscosity oils at high speeds and the tolerance of
wider variations in manufacturing clearance.
T h e hybrid journal bearing is superior to both axial groove and circumferential groove hydrodynamic bearings when dynamic loading is to be
applied in widely varying radial directions. T h e disadvantage of hybrid
bearings is the same as for hydrostatic bearings: it is normally necessary to
provide auxiliary hydraulic e q u i p m e n t , effective filtration and flow control
restrictors. H o w e v e r , it is possible that a lower system pressure will suffice
in view of the high overload capability.
T h e r e are obvious applications w h e r e plain hybrid bearings would have
performance advantages. These are for high-speed machines where hydrodynamic journal bearings tend to suffer from whirl instability at low eccentricity ratios, as in generator sets, turbines and vertical spindle p u m p s for
large thermal power installations, and also for machine tools which are
subject to intermittent cutting operations, shock loads and occasional
heavy overloads.
A special class of the hybrid bearing is the jacking bearing in which the
bearing is jacked hydrostatically under pressure to separate the bearing
surfaces and hence avoid wear and high friction under starting and stopping conditions. A t speed, the supply pressure may possibly be reduced or
even switched off to allow the bearing to o p e r a t e purely hydrodynamically
from a separate low pressure supply.

1.4 Bearing selection

Load and flow
Hydrostatic bearings can be designed in a wide variety of configurations, as
indicated in Figure 1.5. T h e choice of bearing geometry, bearing size and
control system will be considered in relation to applied loads in later sections. H o w e v e r , the range of loads for various supply pressures is shown in
Figure i . 6 a , b . These charts are intended as an approximate guide. It will
be seen that the capacity to withstand an applied load is not d e p e n d e n t on
speed. T h e designer considering the possibility of using hydrostatic bearings will also need to know an approximate flow rate and for this purpose
Figure 7.7 has been produced. Although these data are based on optimized
bearings, the leakage rate is intended only as an order of magnitude value
in the initial design stage.

Figure 1.5 Hierarchy of hydrostatic bearings

Bearing selection


area ( i n )

Figure 1.6a Plane pad bearing load capacity (log-log scales)

Relative merits of different types of bearing

T h e relative merits of hydrostatic and other types of bearing are shown in
Table 1.1 where a simplified rating system has been adopted. This is a
guide where each characteristic is considered in isolation. W h e r e particular
characteristics are required in combination, such as high accuracy, high
stiffness and low wear for a machine tool, the relative merits with respect
to cost may be reversed since a hydrostatic bearing may be the only bearing
where these properties are easily achieved and maintained.
Hydrostatic bearings tend to be thought of as expensive. T h e initial cost
may be higher than for an equivalent rubbing bearing, for instance,
because a p u m p is necessary, but the life of a hydrostatic bearing is virtually infinite. This results in the machine retaining its initial accuracy and
efficiency throughout its life.
During its long operating life, the bearing can sometimes be run on
cheaper lubricants and even on the process liquid itself. Friction losses are
often smaller than with o t h e r types of bearing, which offsets the power
required for the p u m p . With a correctly designed hybrid bearing, the total
power consumption is actually reduced.