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Energy-efficient hydrodynamic journal bearings by means of condition monitoring and lubrication flow control

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Journal bearings are one of the most commonly used engineering parts. State-of-the-art hydrodynamic journal bearing lubrication is carried out by a constant oversupply with lubricant; theory suggests a lubrication flow rate which is up to 80 lower. This causes energy losses due to fluid film friction in the unloaded areas of the bearing. Reducing the lubricant flow, however, may lead to overheating of the bearing or collapse of the load-carrying fluid film, both resulting in failure of the journal bearing. A new approach to safely reduce the lubricant flow by 80 is presented in this paper, by using a broadband piezoelectric acoustic emission sensor to detect ultrasonic structure-borne noise, usually caused by metal-to-metal contact at mixed and boundary lubrication conditions.

The method of structure-borne noise analysis has proven to be suitable for detecting the occurrence of solid friction(14). By combining structure-borne noise analysis with a closed-loop control of a proportional flow control valve, a condition dependent lubricant flow can be set. Thus, friction in the bearing is reduced and, additionally, electrical energy in the peripheral devices such as pumps can be saved.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: IPEK Institute of Product Engineering, Karlsruhe, 76131, Germany.

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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