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Research Papers: Hydrodynamic Lubrication

The Impact of Journal Bearing Wear on an Electric Submersible Pump in Two-Phase and Three-Phase Flow

[+] Author and Article Information
Changrui Bai

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843
e-mail: bcrbuaa@gmail.com

Dezhi Zheng

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843
e-mail: dezhi.zheng28@gmail.com

Robert Hure

Mem. ASME
Mechanical Engineering Department,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843
e-mail: rhure1@tamu.edu

Ramy Saleh

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843
e-mail: r.moaness@gmail.com

Nicolas Carvajal

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843
e-mail: nicolascarva@gmail.com

Gerald Morrison

Professor Emeritus
Mechanical Engineering Department,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843
e-mail: gmorrison@tamu.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Tribology Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Tribology. Manuscript received September 24, 2018; final manuscript received February 4, 2019; published online March 4, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Noel Brunetiere.

J. Tribol 141(5), 051702 (Mar 04, 2019) (8 pages) Paper No: TRIB-18-1398; doi: 10.1115/1.4042773 History: Received September 24, 2018; Accepted February 06, 2019

Electric submersible pumps (ESPs) provide artificial lift within oil wells. ESPs commonly fail from mechanical vibrations that increase as bearing clearances increase from debris, gas, and liquid pumped through the ESP. In order to understand journal bearing wear within an ESP, three stages of a mixed flow electric submersible pump were subjected to hydraulic fracture sand slurry in water. One hundred seventeen hours were conducted with sand and water, followed by 68 h with air added at 15% inlet gas volume fraction. The journal bearings were severely worn by the end of testing, and pump vibrations increased with increased bearing clearances. Bearing vibrations and clearances became significantly larger than the impeller labyrinth seal vibrations and clearances, indicating that the labyrinth seals became the dominant rotor support once the bearings were worn. Adding air increased the wear and rotor vibration orbit variability. Rotor vibration orbits were entirely independent of gas void fraction by the end of testing, indicating that the lubricant composition no longer directly impacted vibrations. Fine axial cracks from heat checking were observed on the journal of the bearings. Results indicate that controlling journal bearing wear is a critical factor for increasing operating lifetimes. Alternative bearing geometry and materials should be investigated to prevent the occurrence of three-body abrasion, limit the resultant wear rate from three-body abrasion, and limit the damage from heat checking.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Experimental facilities

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Fig. 2

Proximity probe (PP) bearing (BRG) and impeller (IMP) positions

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Fig. 3

Bearing clearances during testing

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Fig. 4

Journal diameter measurements at different lengths after 185 h of testing

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Fig. 5

Microscopic examinations of journal surfaces after 185 h of testing

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Fig. 6

Pump component vibration orbits throughout testing at 0% GVF. Pump component vibration orbits throughout testing at 0% GVF. Flat spots on impeller 2 created sharp spikes at 0 h. Large amplitude vibrations after 185 h of operation on shaft 1 exceeded proximity probe range.

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Fig. 7

Pump component vibration orbits after 125 h of testing at different GVFs

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Fig. 8

Pump component vibration orbits after 185 h of testing at different GVFs

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Fig. 9

Shaft 1 (PP1) vibration orbit frequency content during testing

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Fig. 10

Shaft 1 (PP1) start up waterfall plot after 117 h of operation

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Fig. 11

Synchronous vibration amplitude and phase (60 Hz) during testing

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Fig. 12

The 2/3X vibration amplitude and phase (40 Hz) during testing

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