Load-Responsive Hydrodynamic Bearing for Downhole Drilling Tools

[+] Author and Article Information
M. S. Kalsi, P. D. Alvarez, Aaron Richie

 Kalsi Engineering, Inc., 745 Park Two Drive, Sugar Land, TX 77478

D. Somogyi1

 Kalsi Engineering, Inc., 745 Park Two Drive, Sugar Land, TX 77478


Currently with Somogyi Engineering Associates.

J. Tribol 129(1), 209-217 (Nov 06, 2006) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2404963 History: Received September 02, 2004; Revised November 06, 2006

A load-responsive hydrodynamic thrust bearing has been developed that has capabilities to operate under higher load and speed combinations than the current bearing designs used in roller cone drill bits, downhole drilling motors, and other downhole drilling tools. The bearing dynamic surface, which is initially flat, deflects elastically under load to provide an efficient hydrodynamic geometry that generates a lubricant film, with a minimum film thickness that varies from 0.25 to 2.0μm. The bearing operates with friction coefficients typically in the range of 0.003 to 0.005, which are significantly lower than the conventional roller cone bit thrust bearing designs that operate in a boundary/mixed lubrication regime. Lower friction will allow bit seals to run cooler, and higher load/speed capabilities will increase drilling efficiency and extend component life in hard rock formations. Additionally, the new bearing is suitable for applications where tilting pad thrust bearings are used, offering the advantage of being simple, compact, and more economical.

Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Typical roller cone bit showing space constraints on thrust bearings

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Figure 2

Load-responsive thrust bearing concept

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Figure 3

Finite element elastic deformation showing wedge formation under static load

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Figure 4

Simplified free body diagram showing radial and thrust force components in a roller cone bit

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Figure 5

Predicted hydrodynamic performance and load elastic response curves for the prototype bearing using semi-analytic solution

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Figure 6

Predicted friction characteristic of the prototype bearing using semi-analytic solution

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Figure 7

Predicted prototype bearing performance as a function of load using semi-analytic solution

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Figure 8

Predicted film thickness and film pressure solution using coupled EHD analysis

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Figure 9

Comparison of semi-analytical model and coupled elastohydrodynamic model predictions of pressure distributions at mean diameter

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Figure 10

Conventional and load-responsive prototype bearing test specimens

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Figure 11

Thrust bearing test fixture cross section

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Figure 12

Test results for a conventional bearing

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Figure 13

Test results for a load-responsive prototype bearing

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Figure 14

A typical endurance test result for a prototype load-responsive hydrodynamic bearing



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