This paper analyzes the effects of air in the oil film of a tilting-pad journal bearing on oil-air distributions and characteristics. With a gaseous cavitation model and shear stress transport (SST) model with low-Re correction included, the air backflow from the outlet boundary is analyzed in numerical simulations of a titling-pad journal bearing at 3000 rpm rotation speed and under 180 kN load. The simulated bearing load, pressure and mechanical loss are in good accordance with the experimental data, indicating that the simulation results of the air backflow from the outlet boundary can catch the hydrodynamic characteristics accurately. Based on the analyses of simulated air volume fraction and shear stress, the shear stress of the high-pressure loaded area is mainly influenced by the velocity gradient in the normal direction to the rotor-side wall, not the air backflow and gaseous cavitation. In the unloaded area, the gaseous cavitation occurs around the center part, following the gaseous cavitation mechanisms. The backflow air flows into the low-pressure unloaded area from the outlet boundary and has a clear interval with the air from the gaseous cavitation. The air volume fraction increases with these two air sources and affects the mixture viscosity significantly, eventually influencing the shear stress on the rotor-side wall and bearing mechanical loss.

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