A hybrid pulse-tube/reverse-Brayton cryocooler is being developed that integrates a regenerative, pulse-tube upper stage with a recuperative, reverse-Brayton lower stage using a flow rectification system consisting of check-valves and buffer volumes. This system shows the potential for high performance with high reliability and low mass, and simple electrical, mechanical, and thermal integration. The turbine in the reverse-Brayton stage will be supported on hydrostatic gas bearings. The performance of the hybrid cryocooler system is strongly dependent upon the performance of these bearings; in particular their stiffness and mass flow consumption. This is a unique application of hydrostatic bearings; the miniature bearings are operating at cryogenic temperatures using high pressure helium. This paper describes the theoretical model that was developed to predict journal bearing performance as geometry and operating conditions change. The model is verified against experimental measurements of stiffness and mass flow consumption for a prototypical set of journal bearings. The model is subsequently used to optimize a set of journal bearings for the cryogenic turbine and parametrically investigate the effect of journal bearing clearance on system performance.

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