The transient behavior of the co-axial non-synchronous rotating assembly of a decanting centrifuge
Thesis DisciplineMechanical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This study identifies the cause of unstable vibrations that sporadically occur in decanting centrifuges as being caused by a combination of internal bearing clearance, conveyor unbalance and low bearing loads. These centrifuges are different from other rotating equipment common in industry (pumps, fans, compressors, electric motors) in that they are dual rotor systems – one rotor inside the other. Unbalance in either rotor can produce severe vibration of the whole machine when the running speed is close to a mode of vibration – that is, running at or near a critical speed. The external rotor, called the bowl, is subjected to an internal pressure generated by the centrifugal force of the product being separated. The internal rotor is supported from the bowl and is in the form of an auger screw. The main supporting bearings are subjected to forces from both the bowl and the auger - the liquid end bearing also supports the gearbox. Being able to predict critical speeds through numerical or computational analysis is a necessary step in the design process or for troubleshooting vibration problems. As part of the study, the main rolling element bearings were replaced by oil-film journal bearings to assess the viability of their use. Journal bearings are simpler, of lower cost and generate less noise than their rolling element counterparts. However, instability in running above the first critical speed can result due to oil film forces and internal hysteresis of the rotor assembly. The auger is asymmetric so instability in running is possible at around half the first critical speed. This study was undertaken to understand the dynamics of decanting type centrifuges and develop a methodology for identifying their critical speeds and cause of unstable vibration. In the longer term this will assist in the generation of new designs that are quieter, use less energy and have better separation efficiencies.