Technical Brief

The Granular Lubricated Journal Bearing: Evidence of Lift Formation

[+] Author and Article Information
Venkata K. Jasti, Martin C. Marinack, Deepak Patil

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Carnegie Mellon University,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

C. Fred Higgs, III

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Carnegie Mellon University,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
e-mail: higgs@rice.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Tribology Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF TRIBOLOGY. Manuscript received December 24, 2017; final manuscript received December 29, 2018; published online February 5, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Sinan Muftu.

J. Tribol 141(4), 044503 (Feb 05, 2019) (6 pages) Paper No: TRIB-17-1494; doi: 10.1115/1.4042504 History: Received December 24, 2017; Revised December 29, 2018

This work demonstrates that granular flows (i.e., macroscale, noncohesive spheres) entrained into an eccentrically converging gap can indeed actually exhibit lubrication behavior as prior models postulated. The physics of hydrodynamic lubrication is quite well understood and liquid lubricants perform well for conventional applications. Unfortunately, in certain cases such as high-speed and high-temperature environments, liquid lubricants break down making it impossible to establish a stable liquid film. Therefore, it has been previously proposed that granular media in sliding convergent interfaces can generate load carrying capacity, and thus, granular flow lubrication. It is a possible alternative lubrication mechanism that researchers have been exploring for extreme environments, or wheel-regolith traction, or for elucidating the spreadability of additive manufacturing materials. While the load carrying capacity of granular flows has been previously demonstrated, this work attempts to more directly uncover the hydrodynamic-like granular flow behavior in an experimental journal bearing configuration. An enlarged granular lubricated journal bearing (GLJB) setup has been developed and demonstrated. The setup was made transparent in order to visualize and video capture the granular collision activity at high resolution. In addition, a computational image processing program has been developed to process the resulting images and to noninvasively track the “lift” generated by granular flow during the journal bearing operation. The results of the lift caused by granular flow as a function of journal rotation rate are presented as well.

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Fig. 1

Granular lubricated journal bearing: (a) front view and (b) back view; slider mechanism for journal movement in the rθ plane

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Fig. 3

Limiting configuration of GLJB for optimal functioning

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Fig. 4

High-speed collisions of granules in small gap, snapshot of GLJB in motion extracted from high-speed video

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Fig. 5

Illuminated raw frame in which the hub with shiny metallic finish and a bolt with black coating appear as a clean dark spot against white background

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Fig. 6

Output from the image processing code in which the journal position is identified

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Fig. 7

Journal lift with time at different rotation rates

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Fig. 8

Average journal lift at different rotation rates

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Fig. 9

Granular regime in GLJB corresponds to journal rotation rates in Fig. 8: (a) 490 rpm, (b) 540 rpm, (c) 590 rpm, (d) 640 rpm, and (e) 690 rpm



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