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Powerplant Lubricant Selection for Improved Efficiency and Environmental Impact Reduction

[+] Author Affiliations
Gregory F. Simmons, Evgeny A. Kuznetsov, Sergei B. Glavatskih

Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden

Paper No. IMECE2010-37419, pp. 429-437; 9 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 5: Energy Systems Analysis, Thermodynamics and Sustainability; NanoEngineering for Energy; Engineering to Address Climate Change, Parts A and B
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, November 12–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4429-8
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


Computational models were used to optimize bearing performance by adjusting a number of lubricant properties. This computational optimization showed that the most beneficial characteristics to hydrodynamic bearing operation were high viscosity index (VI) and high specific heat capacity. Four environmentally adapted synthetic lubricants were developed to provide these characteristics including: ISO VG32 with 259 VI, ISO VG22 with 245 VI, ISO VG22 with 336 VI, and ISO VG15 with 226 VI. A full scale bearing test machine was then operated with these lubricants in addition to mineral based turbine oils, ISO VG68 with 103 VI and ISO VG32 with 105 VI, to determine the effect on bearing performance and to validate the models. The new lubricants reduced bearing power loss by up to 20% and significantly reduced bearing temperatures with somewhat reduced film thickness. The machine was then operated to provide equivalent minimum viscosity with the new lubricants by varying inlet temperature, finding that changes in power loss were less substantial with equivalent minimum viscosity. Comparison of simulated and experimental results led to development of a simple, practical method to estimate benefits and operational parameters for lubricants based on viscosity grade, viscosity index and a simplified description of the machine’s bearings. Other, less tangible, factors considered are bio-degradeability and impact of power loss reduction.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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