Simple viscoelastic dampers have been invented for use on the root attachments of turbomachine blades. These dampers suppress bending- and torsion-mode blade vibrations, which are excited by unsteady aerodynamic forces during operation. In suppressing vibrations, these dampers reduce fatigue (thereby prolonging blade lifetimes) while reducing noise. These dampers can be installed in new turbomachines or in previously constructed turbomachines, without need for structural modifications. Moreover, because these dampers are not exposed to flows, they do not affect the aerodynamic performances of turbomachines.

Figure 1. Thin Layers of Viscoelastic Damping Material between the blade and hub contact surfaces provide for dissipation of vibrational energy on load paths.
Figure 1 depicts a basic turbomachine rotor, which includes multiple blades affixed to a hub by means of dovetail root attachments. Prior to mounting of the blades, thin layers of a viscoelastic material are applied to selected areas of the blade roots. Once the blades have been installed in the hub and the rotor is set into rotation, centrifugal force compresses these layers between the mating load-bearing surfaces of the hub and the blade root. The layers of viscoelastic material provide load paths through which the vibration energy of the blade can be dissipated. The viscoelasticity of the material converts mechanical vibration energy into shear strain energy and then from shear strain energy to heat.

Figure 2. The Results of the Measurements have shown that the rate of damping at all frequencies was found to be increased significantly when viscoelastic dampers were installed, as observed in (a). This damping increase results in a significant reduction in operational vibratory stresses of rotor blades in a compressor, as seen in (b).
Of the viscoelastic materials that have been considered thus far for this application, the one of choice is a commercial polyurethane that is available in tape form, coated on one side with an adhesive that facilitates bonding to blade roots. The thickness of the tape can be chosen to suit the specific application. The typical thickness of 0.012 in. (≈0.3 mm) is small enough that the tape can fit in the clearance between the mating blade-root and hub surfaces in a typical turbomachine.

In an experiment, a blade was mounted in a test fixture designed to simulate the blade-end conditions that prevail in a turbocompressor. Vibrations were excited in the blade by use of an impact hammer, and damping of the vibrations was measured by use of a dynamic signal analyzer. Tests were performed without and with viscoelastic dampers installed in the dovetail root attachment. The results of the measurements, some of which are presented in Figure 2, show that the viscoelastic dampers greatly increased the rate of damping of vibrations. Accordingly, dynamic stresses on rotor blades were significantly reduced, as shown in Figure 2.

This work was done by Nhan Nguyen of Ames Research Center. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at under the Mechanics category.

This invention has been patented by NASA (U.S. Patent No. 6,102,664). Inquiries concerning nonexclusive or exclusive license for its commercial development should be addressed to the Patent Counsel, Ames Research Center, (650) 604-5104. Refer to ARC-14061.