Research Papers

Elastohydrodynamic Lubrication: A Gateway to Interfacial Mechanics—Review and Prospect

[+] Author and Article Information
Dong Zhu

State Key Laboratory of Mechanical Transmission,  Chongqing University, Chongqing, Chinadongzhu@mail.com

Q. Jane Wang

 Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208qwang@Northwestern.edu

J. Tribol 133(4), 041001 (Aug 09, 2011) (14 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4004457 History: Received February 21, 2011; Revised June 09, 2011; Published August 09, 2011; Online August 09, 2011

Elastohydrodynamic Lubrication (EHL) is commonly known as a mode of fluid-film lubrication in which the mechanism of hydrodynamic film formation is enhanced by surface elastic deformation and lubricant viscosity increase due to high pressure. It has been an active and challenging field of research since the 1950s. Significant breakthroughs achieved in the last 10–15 years are largely in the area of mixed EHL, in which surface asperity contact and hydrodynamic lubricant film coexist. Mixed EHL is of the utmost importance not only because most power-transmitting components operate in this regime, but also due to its theoretical universality that dry contact and full-film lubrication are in fact its special cases under extreme conditions. In principle, mixed EHL has included the basic physical elements for modeling contact, or hydrodynamic lubrication, or both together. The unified mixed lubrication models that have recently been developed are now capable of simulating the entire transition of interfacial status from full-film and mixed lubrication down to dry contact with an integrated mathematic formulation and numerical approach. This has indeed bridged the two branches of engineering science, contact mechanics, and hydrodynamic lubrication theory, which have been traditionally separate since the 1880s mainly due to the lack of powerful analytical and numerical tools. The recent advancement in mixed EHL begins to bring contact and lubrication together, and thus an evolving concept of “Interfacial Mechanics” can be proposed in order to describe interfacial phenomena more precisely and collaborate with research in other related fields, such as interfacial physics and chemistry, more closely. This review paper briefly presents snapshots of the history of EHL research, and also expresses the authors’ opinions about its further development as a gateway to interfacial mechanics.

Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Line-contact EHL solutions by Petrusevich [10]

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Figure 2

Optical interference fringes by Gohar and Cameron [23], in an EHL circular contact

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Figure 3

EHL friction measured by Crook [16] as a function of load and sliding speed. Load (107 dyn/cm): (a) 20, (b) 15, (c) 7.5. Ts : measured traction/friction.

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Figure 4

Roughness orientation effect predicted by stochastic models (from Zhu [70])

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Figure 5

Improved thin-film measurement with SLIM (sample results shown on the left are from Guantang [87])

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Figure 6

Multigrid solution of an EHL circular contact using a densified mesh by Lubrecht [73]

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Figure 7

Unified deterministic model by Zhu and Hu [97], Hu and Zhu [98], and Liu [101] being able to simulate the entire transition from full film and mixed EHL to dry contact with 3D machined roughness

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Figure 8

Comparison of numerical simulation results with experimental data by Luo and Liu [110], for a continuous transition from full film and mixed EHL to boundary lubrication (presented at the STLE Annual Meeting in May, 2010, Las Vegas)

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Figure 9

As the speed decreases, mixed EHL solution gradually approaches that of dry contact (from Wang [124])

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Figure 10

Interfacial mechanics and its related fields of study



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