Centrifugally decoupling mechanical bearing systems provide thin tensioned metallic ribbons contained in a support structure. This assembly rotates around a stationary shaft being centered at low speeds by the action of the metal ribbons. Tension springs are connected on one end to the ribbons and on the other end to the support structure. The ribbons pass through slots in the inner ring of the support structure. The spring preloading thus insures contact (or near-contact) between the ribbons and the shaft at rotation speeds below the transition speed. Above this speed, however, the centrifugal force on the ribbons produces a tensile force on them that exceeds the spring tensile force so that the ribbons curve outward, effectively decoupling them from mechanical contact with the shaft. They still remain, however, in position to act as a touchdown bearing in case of abnormally high transverse accelerations.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC52-07NA27344 between the U.S. Department of Energy and Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.