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**the churning power losses in an industrial
**

planetary speed reducer

Franco Concli, Carlo Gorla

Politecnico di Milano, Dipartimento di Meccanica, Milan, Italy

Abstract

Advantages of planetary speed reducers are well known and due to their compact

design and power density they are suitable for a wide range of applications.

Efficiency is becoming more and more a main concern in the design of power

transmissions and the demand for high efficiency gearboxes is continuously

increasing.

For this reason it’s important to have some models in order to quantify the power

losses already during the design stage. Some theoretical or semi-empirical

models that allow to estimate losses like those of bearings, of seals, of gear

meshing (due to sliding) and, for ordinary gears, those of churning are available

in literature. In the case of planetary speed reducers, where the motion of the

planet carrier causes a rotatory motion of the planets around the axis of the

gearbox, the oil splash lubrication is an important source of losses.

This report introduces a multiphase CFD model for the prediction of the

churning losses characteristic of planetary gears. The analysis has been carried

out by means of an unsteady Volume of Fluid (VOF) model and implemented on

a commercial software (Fluent). The whole geometry of the speed reducer and

many operating conditions like the rotational speed, the oil level and the

operating temperature have been taken into account. Moreover the results of an

experimental testing campaign on an especially designed gearbox are presented

and compared with the computation ones in order to validate the model. The two

approaches gives results in good agreement.

Keywords: Planetary speed reducers, Churning losses, Multiphase flow

simulation, VOF

1 Intrroduction

In the last years, effficiency is be coming more and more a main

m concernn also in

the dessign of power transmissionss and the dem

mand for high efficiency geaarboxes

is conttinuously incrreasing. Just hhaving appropriate modelss to predict thhe final

efficienncy of the speeed reducer [11] it is possible to take the correct

c

choicees since

the deesign step, av

voiding wastee of time an

nd money. So

ome models for the

estimattion of the diifferent sourcees of losses liike those of bearings

b

[2], oof seals

[3], off gear meshin

ng (due to ssliding) [3] and,

a

for ordin

nary gears, thhose of

churninng [4] already

y exist. What is still missin

ng, is an appro

opriate modell for the

predicttion of the ch

hurning lossees in planetary

y speed reduccers. In this kkind of

gearingg, in fact, the motion of the planetary

y gears due to

t the planet carrier

rotationn is an additio

onal source off losses.

Aim off this study is to provide a model for thee correct estim

mation of this kind of

losses and, consequeently, for the ccorrect estimaation of the eff

fficiency of thee whole

transm

mission. The model

m

has beeen performed by mean of a computationnal fluid

dynam

mic (CFD) anaalysis that sim

mulates the behaviour

b

of the air-oil luubricant

mixturre.

To validate the num

merical model,, an industriall planetary speeed reducer hhas been

convenniently modifiied in order too be able to measure

m

the churning

c

lossees alone

causedd by the motio

on of the planeetary gears. This

T gearbox has

h been testeed on an

especiaally designed test rig.

2 Prooblem defin

nition

Figure 1 shows an example

e

of a planetary geaaring: it can be

b seen the suun gear,

the plaanetary gears, the planet carrrier and the ex

xternal crown.

Figure 1: planetary gearing

**In the common con
**

nfiguration, thhe power flow

ws from the sun

s gear shaft

ft to the

planet carrier shaft. The planetaary gears hav

ve therefore two

t

rotatory motion

compoonents: the firsst one is a rottation around their axis and

d the second oone is a

motionn with a circu

ular path arouund the gearb

box axis due to the planett carrier

rotationn on which th

hey are mounteed.

The planetary speed

d reducers are generally oil splash lubricated and it is jjust the

interacction between the rotating elements and

d the lubrican

nt air-oil mixtture the

source of losses inveestigated by thhe presented model.

m

The inffluence param

meters are the oil level and its

i properties, such as the vi

viscosity

and thee density (fun

nctions of the temperature), the geometry and, of couurse, the

rotationnal speed. Th

he transmitted torque influences this kind

d of losses inddirectly:

increassing the transm

mitted torque means more load dependent power lossses (like

the meeshing ones and

a part of th

the bearing ones) and, con

nsequently, a higher

regimee temperature of the lubricannt.

3 Geoometry mod

difications

The iniitial geometry

y of the analyssed speed redu

ucer is shown in figure 2.

Fig

gure 2: initial geometry of the

t speed redu

ucer

i composed bby a sun gearr, 3 planetary gears and a ““double

The sppeed reducer is

disk” planet

p

carrier. Both, the inpuut and the outtput shaft, are mounted by m

mean of

2 beariings. Two contact seal aree also presentt to avoid leak

kage of lubriccant. In

order to evaluate thee churning pow

wer losses related to the mo

otion of the pllanetary

gears around

a

the gearbox axis duue to the rotattion of the plaaner carrier onnly, the

originaary geometry of the speedd reducer has been modifieed. The teethh of the

externaal crown have been removved by mach

hining and thee sun gear haas been

substituuted with a sm

maller and cyllindrical (with

hout teeth) com

mponent. Thee aim of

this moodifications iss to prevent thhe engaging off the gears, av

voiding slidingg losses

and chhurning lossess due to the rotation of the

t gears around their axiis. This

**modified geometry has been uused both for the numerical model aand the
**

experim

mental testing

g campaign.

4 Mod

del set up

4.1 Geeometry and Mesh

The doomain for the CFD

C

analysis is the internaal free volume of the speed reducer

after thhe above desccribed geomeetry modifications. Figure 3 shows this volume

markedd in yellow.

**Figure 3: modified geometry
**

g

of tthe speed redu

ucer: the com

mputational doomain is

marked in yellow

The coomputational domain

d

for thee CFD analysiis has been modelled by meean of a

3D cadd software an

nd discretizedd with a swep

pt mesh. Thiss meshing tecchnique

consistts in creating a mesh on onne side of the region, know

wn as the sourc

rce side,

and theen copying th

he nodes of thhat mesh, onee element layeer at a time, uuntil the

final siide, known as the target sidde, is reached.

The whhole model haas been discreetized with ab

bout 500000 hexahedral

h

cellls. This

kind off elements allows a larger aaspect ratio compared with

h the tetrahedrral cells

in whicch it will invaariably affectss the skewnesss of the cell, which is undeesirable

as it may

m impede acccuracy and coonvergence.

4.2 Paarameter settiing

A VO

OF multiphasee approach hhas been cho

osen for the analysis. Thhe VOF

formullation relies on

o the fact tthat two or more fluids (or phases) are not

interpeenetrating. Th

he fields for aall variables and propertiees are shared by the

phases and represen

nt volume-aveeraged values, as long as th

he volume fracction of

each off the phases iss known at eacch location. Thus

T

the variab

bles and propeerties in

any giiven cell aree either pureely representaative of one of the phaases, or

represeentative of a mixture

m

of thhe phases, dep

pending upon the volume ffraction

values.. The tracking

g of the interfface between the

t phases is accomplishedd by the

solutioon of a continu

uity equation ffor the volumee fraction of one

o of the phas

ases

∙

1

where

is the density of the

phase,

the volume fraction of that phase,

and

the mass transfer from phase

to phase

and vice versa

respectively. This volume fraction equation has been solved be mean of an

explicit scheme discretisation in order to avoid the numerical diffusion. That

means solving

2

,

∆

where

1 and are the indexes for the new time step and the preious one,

volume fraction computed with the Geo, is the face value of the

is the volume flux on

Reconstruction scheme, is the volume of the cell and

the face. The Geo-Reconstruction approach is an accurate scheme that assumes

that the interface between two fluids has a linear slope within each cell, and uses

this linear shape for the calculation of the advection of fluid through the cell

faces. This scheme avoids the numerical diffusion but needs an accurate grid.

The properties appearing in the above transport equations are determined by the

presence of the component phases in each control volume. In a two-phase

system, if the phases are represented, for example, by the subscripts air and oil,

and if the volume fraction of the second of these is being tracked, the density in

each cell is given by

1

3

**All other properties are calculated in the same manner.
**

The two phases properties are summarized in table 1.

Table 1: properties of the two phases at 40°C

[Kg/m3]

1.225

1041

40°C

Air

Lubricant Oil

40°C [Kg/ms]

1.7894E-05

0.2082

**As operating density has been chosen the lowest one.
**

A single momentum equation is solved throughout the domain, and the resulting

velocity field is shared among the phases

∙

∙

4

One lim

mitation of th

he shared-fiellds approximaation is that in

i cases wherre large

velocitty differencess exist betwe en the phasees, the accuraacy of the veelocities

compuuted near the interface can be adversely

y affected. The energy equuation si

also shhared among th

he phases

∙

∙

5

The VOF

V

model treats

t

energyy, , and tem

mperature, , as mass-avveraged

variablles. As with the

t velocity ffield, the accu

uracy of the temperature

t

nnear the

interfacce is limited in cases wheere large temp

perature differrences exist bbetween

the phaases.

For thhe pressure-velocity-coupliig a SIMPLE

E scheme haas been adoppted as

suggessted for flow

ws in closed domains. Th

his algorithm uses a relattionship

betweeen velocity an

nd pressure coorrections to enforce mass conservationn and to

obtain the pressure field.

f

In order to reprodu

uce the operaating conditio

ons of the speed reducer, a rigid

motionn of the mesh has been appplied. The mo

otion has been

n defined by m

mean of

an UD

DF (User defined Functionn). All the bo

oundaries has been set to no slip

walls: the internal boundaries,

b

coorresponding to

t the planet carrier and pllanetary

gears surfaces,

s

rotatte together w

with the mesh (marked in blue

b

in the fiigure 4)

while the

t other boun

ndaries, correesponding to the

t external crrown and the case of

the geearbox (markeed in red in the figure 4),

4 are station

nary in the aabsolute

referennce frame.

a)

b)

Figure 4: a) 2D scheematization off the computattional domain (section. A-A

A fig. 3)

b) 3D representation of tthe computatiional domain

The tim

me step for thee transient anaalysis has been

n evaluated ass

,

∆

6

where

is the volume of the smallest cell in the computational domain

,

and is the velocity scale of the problem.

4.3 Operating conditions

The purpose of the simulations is to analyze the resistant torque on the planet

carrier shaft. This moment is calculated with a surface integral on the moving

walls with respect to the gearbox axis and it is composed by two parts: the first

given by pressure and the second by the viscous effects. Some simulations have

been computed with a different combinations of oil level, operating temperature

and rotational speed. Table 2 shows the combinations of parameters for each

simulation. is the operating temperature in °C,

the rotational speed of the

planet carrier in rpm and is the oil level in mm measured from the gearbox axis

(positive if higher than the axis, negative if lower).

Table 2: parameters for each simulation:

T [°C] L[mm] [rpm]

40

20

500

40

0

500

40

0

1500

40

20

1000

40

20

1500

40

0

1000

40

-20

500

40

-20

1000

40

-20

1500

20

0

1000

65

0

1000

**The annalysis have been
**

b

stopped after the resisstant torque had

h no more ssensible

fluctuaations and hass stabilized. B

By multiplying

g the mean vaalue of the torrque by

the im

mposed rotatio

onal speed, it is possible to

t determine the churningg power

losses.

b)

a)

Figure 5: a) contou

urs of velocity

ty magnitude for the oil phase

p

b) conttours of

volume fraaction for the oil phase in th

he mid-section

n

5 Exp

perimental tests

In ordder to provide a validatioon of the nu

umerical model, a real inndustrial

planetaary speed redu

ucer has been modified as already

a

described and testedd. After

the moodifications, th

he input shaft and the outpu

ut shaft are co

ompletely unccoupled.

That alllows to movee the planet caarrier and rep

produce the co

ondition in whhich the

meshinng losses and the churning losses due to

o the rotationss of the gears around

their axxis are avoided.

g

Figure 6: schhematic layoutt of the test rig

A scheematic layout of

o the test rig is shown in figure

fi

6. The speed reducer is fixed

to the ground

g

by meean of a speciially designed

d structure. Th

he planet carriier shaft

**is connnected to a HBM
**

H

T12 torqque meter with a telemetricc transmissionn of the

signal by mean of a double carddan shaft in orrder to avoid bending. Thee torque

meter, in turn, is con

nnected to a 355KW DC mottor by means of

o a coupling..

Fig

gure 7: test rigg with the testted speed redu

ucer

A transparent pipe allows

a

the moonitoring of the

t actual oil level. The opperating

temperrature can be imposed

i

by a special heatin

ng system (inssulated chambber with

a heatinng source) and measured byy mean of a th

hermocouple. The rotationaal speed

can be controlled by

y the motor PL

LC (programm

mable logic co

ontroller). For each of

the 3 oil

o levels, 4 different

d

tempperatures havee been tested. For all this ccoupled

operatiing condition

ns (oil level + temperaturre) the poweer losses havve been

measurred in a rotatio

onal speed rannge between 100

1 rpm and 1500 rpm.

6 Ressults

Beforee comparing the experimeental results with

w

the com

mputation onees, it is

necessaary to subtracct the seal lossses and the bearing

b

lossess from the m

measured

values.. The torque meter, in factt, measures th

he input pow

wer of the redu

ducer. A

little frraction of this power is disssipated by the two internal bearings

b

of thee planet

carrier shaft and by its seal. This part of lossess can be easily

y calculated bby mean

of som

me proved mod

dels [2], [3] ass function of th

he testing con

nditions.

Figure 8 to 13 show

w both the exxperimental an

nd the compu

utation results for the

different oil levels an

nd as a functioon of temperaature and rotattional speed.

Due too the high co

omputational ttime needed for the solutiion of the nuumerical

modelss, not all the experimentallly tested con

nditions have been also coomputed

with thhe CFD analyssis.

It can be seen thaat the numeri

rical results are

a in good agreement w

with the

numeriical ones.

Power losses L=+20mm

300

ω=500rpm (exp)

250

ω=1000rpm (exp)

P [W]

200

ω=1500rpm (exp)

150

ω=500rpm (CFD)

100

ω=1000rpm (CFD)

50

ω=1500rpm (CFD)

0

0,0

50,0

100,0

T [°C]

Figure 8: experimental and computation results for L=20mm

Power losses L=0mm

P [W]

250

ω=500rpm (exp)

200

ω=1000rpm (exp)

150

ω=1500rpm (exp)

100

ω=500rpm (CFD)

ω=1000rpm (CFD)

50

ω=1500rpm (CFD)

0

0,0

50,0

100,0

T [°C]

Figure 9: experimental and computation results for L=0mm

Power losses L=‐20mm

150

ω=500rpm (exp)

P [W]

125

ω=1000rpm (exp)

100

ω=1500rpm (exp)

75

ω=500rpm (CFD)

50

ω=1000rpm (CFD)

25

ω=1500rpm (CFD)

0

0,0

50,0

100,0

T [°C]

Figure 10: experimental and computation results for L=-20mm

P [W]

Power losses (L=20mm)

300

250

200

150

100

50

0

T=20°C (exp)

T=45°C (exp)

T=65°C (exp)

T=85°C (exp)

T=40°C (CFD)

0

500

1000

1500

2000

V [rpm]

Figure 11: experimental and computation results for L=20mm

P [W]

Power losses (L=0mm)

300

250

200

150

100

50

0

T=20°C (exp)

T=45°C (exp)

T=65°C (exp)

T=85°C (exp)

T=40°C (CFD)

0

500

1000

1500

2000

V [rpm]

Figure 12: experimental and computation results for L=0mm

P [W]

Power losses (L=‐20mm)

175

150

125

100

75

50

25

0

T=20°C (exp)

T=45°C (exp)

T=65°C (exp)

T=85°C (exp)

T=40°C (CFD)

0

500

1000

1500

2000

V [rpm]

Figure 13: experimental and computation results for L=-20mm

7 Conclusions

As reliable models to predict the churning losses of the planetary gears are still

not available, a CFD model has been applied in order to predict this important

component of losses of epicycloid gear reducers, starting from the geometry and

the operating conditions. The results of the model are well supported by the

experiments (except for extremely low temperatures). The losses increase, as

expected, with static lubricant level and rotational speed and decrease with the

temperature. The decrease rate of the power losses with the temperature is very

high for low temperature and decreases with the temperature growth.

The increase rate of the losses with the rotational speed is more than linear.

Future development are the investigation of other influence parameters like the

oil type and the geometry of the reducer.

References

[1] Concli, F., Gorla, C., Arigoni, R., Cognigni, E., Musolesi, M.,

Planetary Speed Reducers: Efficiency, Backlash, Stiffness, International

conference on gears, Munich 2010

[2] General Catalogue SKF –– SKF Group, December 2006

[3] Niemann, G., Winter, H., Maschinenelemente – Band 2: Getriebe Allgemein,

Zahnradgetriebe – Grundlagen, Stirnradgetriebe – 2. Auflage , Springer,

Berlin 2003

[4] ISO/TR 14179-1 and -2

[5] Patankar, S.V., Numerical heat transfer and fluid flow, Taylor&Francis, USA

1980

[6] Versteeg, H.K., Malalasekera, W., An introduction to computational fluid

dynamics – The finite volume method, Longman Group, London 1995

[7] Comini, G., Fondamenti di termofluidodinamica computazionale,

SGEditoriali, Padova 2004

[8] Concli, F., Gorla, C., Arigoni, R., Musolesi, M., Riduttori di precisione a

gioco ridotto ed alta efficienza, Organi di trasmissione – febbraio 2011,

Tecniche Nuove, Milano 2011

[9] Csobàn, A., Kozma, M., Influence of the Oil Churning, the Bearing and the

Tooth Friction Losses on the Efficiency of Planetary Gears, Journal of

Mechanichal Engineering 56(2010)4, pp.231-238

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