For rotors supported with active magnetic bearings (AMBs), the auxiliary bearing system or backup bearing system is needed to avoid serious potential internal damaging in the event of AMB loss of power or overload. The evolution of auxiliary systems has been made a priority by the American Petroleum Institute using analytical or experimental methods. In part I of this paper, a detailed rotor drop nonlinear transient analysis method including flexible shaft, rolling element bearing components including inner/outer races and balls, as well as flexible/damped supporting structures is given. A finite element based 6-DOF flexible rotor model is used to indicate shaft motion before the drop (operating conditions) and during the rotor drop event. Un-lubricated Hertzian contact models are used between the shaft and inner/outer races, between balls and races. To avoid heavy calculating time, two different methods to calculate ball bearing contact loads are discussed and the simulation results are compared. These models are applied to predict shaft-race-ball displacements and angular speeds, contact loads and ball bearing stresses during the drop for angular contact auxiliary bearings. This method also can be used to design and optimize the auxiliary bearing system as presented in the 2nd part of this paper.

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