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An In Situ Mechanism for the Optimal Cooling of Oil-Lubricated Rolling Element Bearings and Planetary Gear Systems

[+] Author Affiliations
E. Y. A. Wornyoh, D. K. Patel, L. D. Schuessler

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI

Paper No. IMECE2011-64614, pp. 71-80; 10 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 10: Heat and Mass Transport Processes, Parts A and B
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, November 11–17, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5496-9
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


A major detriment to reliable and sustainable operation of rotational equipment has been extensively linked to high thermal loads from frictional dissipation. Frictional dissipation in critical tribological components such as bearings and gears results in lubricant degradation and subsequent subpar thermal performance. In this study, a novel in situ lubricant cooling system is used to provide a continuous cooling of these critical tribo-components. Experiments were conducted using rolling element bearing (REB) and planetary gear system (PGS) sets. The stationary outer race of a REB was used to accommodate a cooling coil in a heat exchange-like arrangement. Similarly, the stationary outer ring of the PGS housed a cooling coil in another heat exchanger-like arrangement. Use of the heat exchanger arrangements assured continuous in situ cooling to remove the heat generated in the tribological REB and PGS. Water was used as the coolant while Amsoil 75W-90 Severe Gear® oil was the lubricant used. Highly conductive copper coils surrounded the REB or PGS and the coolant was circulated through the coils to remove the heat from the outer bearing race and ring gear. The hot lubricant rejects heat by convection into the outer race thereby limiting lubricant degradation. The incidence of wear and premature failure are also minimized. So far results from this experimental study show that heat generation is significantly minimized in bearings and gears when cooled in situ. This preliminary study has offered important insight for more rigorous follow-on studies.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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