Analysis of the flow in the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) high pressure oxygen turbopump (HPOTP) bearing no. 1 inlet cavity was completed in support of return-to-flight. With the incorporation of several design changes in the Phase 2 turbopump, rotordynamic stability of the pumps was enhanced, but the durability and life of the LOX-cooled bearings has decreased. During the post-Challenger SSME recertification, the causes of limited bearing durability were investigated. One topic addressed was the flow environment upstream of the pump-end bearing and the effect of seal exit swirl and a cavity anti-vortex rib on the bearing environment and life. The objective is to define the hydrodynamic environment upstream of the pump-end bearing and determine the effect of seal exit swirl and the anti-vortex rib on bearing inlet swirl. The problem was posed as an axisymmetric cavity flow with the computational domain extending from the seal exit to the bearing inlet. This domain was discretized with 22800 grid points. Boundary conditions were obtained from a 1-D model of the SSME coolant path. The inlet Mach number was 0.19 and the problem was solved with the CMINT code utilizing the Briley-McDonald/Beam-Warming algorithm with preconditioning to speed convergence at low Mach numbers. Three parametric cases with inlet swirl of 50 percent shaft speed (labyrinth seal), 20 percent shaft speed (damping seal), and no inlet swirl were considered. Computational results indicate large vortical flow structures in the cavity, with the labyrinth, damping, and no-swirl cases yielding bearing inlet swirl rates of 14, 10, and 9 percent of shaft speed, respectively. When these results were used as input to the SHABRETH bearing model, limited durability could not be explained by these small differences in swirl. Also, based on these results, a proposed design change for the cavity anti-vortex rib was not implemented by the SSME chief engineer.
NASA, Ames Research Center, NASA Computational Fluid Dynamics Conference. Volume 2: Sessions 7-12; p 149-160