Lubrication performance of aerospace fuel pumps

The research article On the lubrication performance of external gear pumps for aerospace fuel delivery applications has been published in Elsevier journal  Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing (Volume 129, 15 August 2019, Pages 659-676).

Abstract

External gear pumps (EGPs) are one of the most common choices in aerospace engines as a fuel delivery pump. These units usually include a pressure compensation system that defines the lubricating gap at the lateral side of the gears. This lubricating interface is a critical design aspect, which strongly affects the reliability as well as the mechanical and volumetric efficiencies of the pump. Major challenges in designing these lubricating gaps in aero engine fuel pumps, include high operating speeds, delivery pressures and low viscosity of the working fluids. Virtual prototyping methods present a fast and efficient design tool and have the potential to improve the EGP’s reliability and efficiency.

This paper presents a study on the pressure compensation system of a fuel delivery EGP and shows how the presence of frictional forces opposing the motion of the compensating element significantly affect the lubricating performance of the unit. The presence of these frictional forces produces an effect of hysteresis on the axial balance system, so that the lubricating gaps that develop within the pump at a certain operating condition depend on the previous operating state. This effect was captured in an experimental setup purposely developed for this study at Rolls-Royce. Within this work, this behavior was also reproduced numerically, through a coupled fluid structure interaction – elastohydrodynamic (EHD) model that includes the modeling of these frictional forces. After detailing the implementation of the lateral gap model, this paper presents measurements from carefully conducted experiments which correlate with the simulated predictions of the influence of frictional forces on the performance of a reference EGP design under study.

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