Abstract Since the sodium-cooled fast reactor coolant pump is subject to problems associated with journal wear and leakage during its operation, a guide plain bearing with spiral grooves is proposed to improve hydrodynamic characteristics of the gap in the bearing. Based on numerical simulations of CFD, the advantages and disadvantages of the bearings with spiral grooves respectively in the bush and the spindle are compared in terms of their performance. It turns out that the bearing with spiral grooves in the spindle is more effective. Accordingly, the influence of spiral groove structural variables on fluid dynamic characteristics of the bearing gap is explored, and then a preliminary optimized bearing structure is put forward. The results show that the helix angle of spiral groove is a significant factor influencing the support force and deflection angle. Further, with increasing helix angle, the support force rises but the deflection angle decreases. The helix angle and the groove-to-dam width ratio are two factors significantly affecting the leakage. Specially, the leakage increases with increase of the helix angle and the ratio. The number of spiral grooves has no significant effect on the bearing performance. The bearing with 12 spiral grooves, 42? helix angle and 2.0 groove-to-dam width ratio has the best overall performance. These results have certain guiding significance for the hybrid-bearing structure design.
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