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Sumit Singhal, Sr. Product Engineer, Siemens Energy & Automation
Norwood, OH, USA

Electric motor drives variety of applications in a cement manufacturing plant such as kilns,
crushers, ID fans, separators, cooler fans etc. Motor manufacturers serving cement industry
needs are often faced with challenging tasks of designing motors suitable for various operating
conditions and requirements which are not only reliable but also cost competitive. Some of the
drives such as a fan ID drive may be required to operate at speed as low as 50 rpm during
turning gear applications which may last up to several hours. Sleeve bearing electric motors
operating at low speed such as during turning gear operation require careful attention on bearing
design for reliable operations. Safe operation of oil ring lubricated sleeve bearings rely on a
generation of hydrodynamic oil film which separates motor rotor and bearing and prevent metal to
metal contact. Inadequate development of oil film thickness or boundary lubrication may lead to
metal to metal contact between rotor and bearing which can cause bearings to rapidly wear and
fail. Although the cost of bearings is a small part of the motor, its failure may cause costly
equipment damage and expensive downtime. This paper will discuss some of the key aspects of
sleeve bearing design for low speed applications and field practices to avoid bearing failures.

Large electrical machines have been used in the cement industry since the turn of the century. As
cement production has become more complex, so has the equipment and automation systems
that support the manufacturing processes. Electrical motors form the backbone of most of the
processes involved in cement manufacturing plant such as kilns, crushers, ID fans, separators
and cooler fans etc. Reliability of electric motors is important factor for the production and
manufacturing of cement. Motor manufacturers serving cement industry are often faced with
challenging tasks of designing motors suitable for various operating conditions and requirement
which is not only reliable but also cost effective.

Out of the several factors which may cause motor failure and reliability issues in cement plant,
one of the most frustrating and involving is bearing failure. Although the cost of bearings is a
small part of the motor its failure may cause costly equipment damage and expensive downtime.
It is not uncommon for a motor bearing to operate fine during normal operation but fail during
turning gear application on ID Fans. A fan ID drive may be required to operate a de-energized
motor rotor at speeds as low as 50 rpm during turning gear applications which may lasts up to
several hours. Sleeve bearing electric motors operating at low speed, such as during turning gear
operations, require careful attention on bearing design for reliable operations. Sometimes
bearings can be less forgiving at lower speeds than at higher operating speeds. A good
understanding of various operating and ambient conditions, along with possible failure modes,
helps the designer to design reliable bearings. Good design along with regular preventive
maintenance practices can lead to longer bearing and motor life.

In the following sections a quick overview of the basic theory of oil lubricated sleeve bearing
design, various lubrication regimes, key design parameters along with possible failure mode and
recommended field practice is presented.

The nomenclature of oil lubricated sleeve bearing shown in Figure 1. A sleeve bearing consists of
a stationary cylindrical body (sleeve) separated from a rotating shaft by a layer of lubricant.
Operation of oil lubricated sleeve bearings relies on the generation of an oil film between rotating
shaft and stationary bearing babbitt due to hydrodynamic action. In oil lubricated sleeve bearings

R= radius of bearing. L = length of bearing. load. Eccentricity ratio (ε) Is a ratio which gives overall radial clearance used by the shaft journal inside the bearing during operation. 2 µNLD ⎛ R ⎞ (1) S= ⎜ ⎟ W ⎝C ⎠ where µ = viscosity of lubricant. C= radial clearance between journal and bearing. load. Oil which stick to the shaft is pumped into the clearance between shaft and babbitt by rotation of the shaft. Rbushing = rms surface finish of bushing. N = rotor speed. Sommerfeld number (S) Is a non-dimensional design parameter which involves the geometrical and operating features of bearings such as rotational speed. Film thickness parameter ( λ ) Is a ratio of composite surface roughness of mating surface to minimum film thickness [1]. C. There are several key operating and geometric parameters which influences the generation of reliable oil film such as operating speed. radial clearance. radius and length of the bearing. B. oil viscosity. Eccentricity ratio is strongly related to Sommerfeld number as shown in Figure 2. Some of the important parameters involved in the design of oil lubricated sleeve bearings are described below. Load C Bearing Shaft ε Clearance Circle hmin Lubricant Fig. oil viscosity. diameter and length of bearing.oil may be supplied to the bearings by gravity feed. hmin λ= ( ) 1 (2) R 2journal + R bushing 2 2 where hmin = minimum film thickness. Rshaft = rms surface finish of shaft. A. clearance. Due to the hydrodynamic action of the fluid film . external lubrication system or oil rings. 1. surface finish. W = weight of rotor. Once the oil is supplied to the bearing and it has a tendency to stick to the shaft due to its viscous properties. D = diameter of bearing. fluid pressure is generated within the clearance to counteract the weight of the shaft thus the fluid film developed lifts the shaft from the babbitt surface preventing metal to metal contact. Schematic of journal bearing .

typically less than composite surface roughness ( λ << 1 ). In this lubrication regime significant wear damage can be caused to shaft or babbitt due to metal . Eccentricity ratio ε REGIMES OF LUBRICATION In the theory of lubrication there are three different possible regimes of operation for oil lubricated sleeve bearings [2].4 Eccentricity Ratio 0. . 1 0. Prolonged operation of the bearing in this regime with foreign particle or contamination in the lubricating oil may eventually lead to failure of bearings or journal. Boundary lubrication In this regime as shown in Figure 3a two mating surfaces are not separated by the lubricant film. Relation between Sommerfeld Number S vs.5 0. mixed and hydrodynamic lubrication regimes in terms of coefficient of friction and film parameter λ . fluid film is not developed and there is considerable asperity contact.9 0. 2. it is imperative to identify regimes of lubrication for the entire range of operating speeds and ensure that enough film thickness is developed to separate asperities of shaft and babbitt at all operating speeds. coefficient of friction is highly dependent on operating conditions.metal contact there is no wear of either shaft or bearing babbitt and a bearing can run for an infinite time or “not life limited”.5 0. A. B.Since there is no metal .25 L/D=.3 0.7 L/D=. Friction of coefficient is essentially independent of fluid viscosity.metal contact. Mixed boundary-hydrodynamic regime Mixed lubrication regime is a transition zone from boundary lubrication to full film lubrication. Coefficient of friction is viscosity of lubricating oil . Prolong operation of bearing on this regime may eventually wipe out bearings.8 0. 3. Hydrodynamic regime In full film lubrication regime or so called hydrodynamic lubrication regime the two mating surfaces are completely separated by the oil film with no asperity contacts as shown in Figure 3c. Molecularily thin Asperity Film Contact Thick Oil Film (a) Boundary Lubrication (b) Mixed Regime (c) Hydrodynamic Lubrication Fig. The oil film thickness is much greater than composite surface roughness ( λ > 5 ).While designing bearings. Boundary lubrication occurs when the film thickness is very small. Regimes of Lubrication Figure 4 [2] depicts the boundary.6 L/D=. there is asperity to asperity contact of peaks as shown in Figure 3b.4 0. In this regime a partial fluid film is developed between mating surfaces.2 0. C.1 0 -2 -1 0 1 2 10 10 10 10 10 Sommerfeld Number S Fig.

04 µ in to . Usually motor manufacturers grind. The roughness (surface finish) of machined surfaces is between 4 µ in to 125 µ in. Designers have to do very detailed analysis and use their experience to estimate film thickness for slow speed bearings such as turning gear applications. Even a well polished surface is rough when examined with a microscope or surface profilometer. where as typical atomic diameters are between . During that time bearings are either operating under boundary or mixed lubrication regime. A. Key parameters which require careful attention during design phase are discussed below. Designers have to balance several factors before making a selection of an optimal oil grade. From experience a 64 µin surface finish for both shaft and bearing has proven to be safe assumption for the estimation of reliable film thickness. Hence the number of start cycles influence wear rate and surface finish of the shaft and the bearing. Fig. B. Effect of Viscosity Selection of correct oil for lubrication of motor bearings sometimes can be very tricky. seems to be good choice for bearings operating at 1800 rpm this gives best efficiency for the motor but does not . To illustrate. especially for a converter fed machine which has a range of operating speeds. Hence composite surface finish becomes a very important parameter for slow speed bearing design. Estimation of oil film thickness in hydrodynamic or full film regime has been well understood and several commercial bearing design codes are available. Some of the deciding factors for optimum oil grade are: 1) Viscous losses in bearings which directly effects motor efficiency 2) Rotor dynamic damping provided by oil for low vibration at high speeds 3) Development of full film lubrication at all operating speed. If not designed properly it is highly likely that bearings are less forgiving at low speed than at higher speeds. The first step is to predict how slow bearing can run and still have full film lubrication. let us consider an example of an induction motor which is operating on VFD with a speed range from 1800-120 rpm. Surface finish Smooth surfaces are not smooth on an atomic scale. For reliable bearing design the worst case shaft surface should be chosen to estimate the real life film thickness parameter.To ensure full film lubrication the film thickness parameter. λ should exceed 5. ambient conditions and field operation practices. However bearing design at low speed operation becomes very sensitive to manufacturing process. In this case light turbine oil ISO VG 22. It is imperative to understand the regimes of lubrication so that reliable bearings can be designed.4 µ in. polish and burnish the journal down to 16 µin or better surface finish for special applications but the surface finish may deteriorate over time during operation cycles in the field. 4. Usually it takes a few seconds to establish full film lubrication in bearings whenever the machine is started. Variation of friction coefficient with film parameter [2] DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS FOR SLOW SPEED BEARINGS It is often the low speed problem that challenges the designer more than high speed bearing design.

slower speeds results in thinner oil film thickness. Variation of viscosity with temperature Fig. A VFD application with lightly loaded bearings should be checked for any oil whirl instabilities at higher speeds which may lead to catastrophic bearing failures. A 200 C rise in temperature can cause oil viscosity to drop by half. ambient temperature becomes very a important consideration for the estimation of oil film thickness. because it provides good damping at high speeds and have sufficient viscosity to develop full film lubrication at 120 rpm. Hence the load should be low enough so that an appropriate film thickness can be developed by hydrodynamic lubrication. To reduce projected load. Hence bearing should be designed with optimum projected loads suitable for both high speed application free of instabilities and low speed turning gear application. 1000. 1. For the same design and load parameters. Load Oil film thickness decreases proportionally with increasing load.0 Viscosity (cP) 10. Projected load on the bearing can be varied by changing the length and diameter of the bearing. Effect of contamination . as this portion rotates to the top. 6. oversized journals sometimes is not a good option as it not only increases material costs but also lead to higher churning losses in the bearing. The lower portion of the oil ring dips into the oil.0 22 32 46 68 100.0 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 Temperature C Fig. although it generates higher viscous losses. this issue can be solved by supplying external lubrication system or by supplying grooved oil rings. Sleeve bearings with oil rings lubrication system C.044 2 hmin ⎛L⎞ µNLD ⎡ R ⎤ = 4. a light load creates a smaller coefficient of friction than heavy loads [4].provide sufficient rotor dynamic damping for low vibration and also may not be good choice for motors operating on VFD with speed down to 120 rpm where it does not have sufficient viscosity to develop full film lubrication due to low speed. most of the oil lubricated sleeve bearings use oil rings dipped in an oil sump to supply oil to the bearings. oil runs down the surface of the shaft. 5. In the mixed lubrication regime. For motors operating with a self contained lubrication system. Khonsari et al [1] used following relationship to relate minimum thickness to oil viscosity for an oil lubricated sleeve bearings. D. ISO VG 68 oil may be a good choice. It may influence overall selection of lubrication oil for the application. E. If speed of the shaft is too slow then oil ring will not pick up enough oil to develop full film lubrication.678⎜ ⎟ ⎢C ⎥ (3) C ⎝D⎠ W ⎣ ⎦ Oil viscosity decreases rapidly with increasing temperature as shown in Figure 5. Another issue at low operating speed is the quantity of oil delivered to the bearings by oil rings in a self contained lubrication system. In electric motors. During operation oil ring rotates with the shaft and picks up oil as shown in Figure 6. Minimum film thickness is strongly influenced by the operating viscosity of the lubricating oil. As seen from the Figure 7 [3] oil delivered by the rings to the bearing increases with increasing shaft speed.0 1. Operation speed As seen from the equation (2) oil film thickness is directly influenced by the speed of operation.

NT = ( 60Pλ R 2journal + Rbushing 2 ) 1 2 1. Solution: Motor bearing specifications: L = 175.304 mm. Quantity of oil delivered vs shaft speed [3] been introduced into the lubrication system during shop manufacture. odds of causing bearing damage at lower speeds is much more than at higher speeds. An external lubrication or flood lube systems also allows the use of oil filters which can separate debris from lubricating oil.0 0C. . D = 250. These failures are usually caused by debris in the oil which has Fig.Many studies have indicated that the proportion of bearing failures due to contaminations of lubrication oil is very high [5]. In the design of motors for turning gear application often questions arises how low the speed of motor can be without a requirement of an oil lift systems for the motor bearings.Equation (4) can be used to estimate minimum speed at which full film hydrodynamic lubrication will be developed for given geometric. W = 30. If the size of the debris is more than the minimum film thickness then hard debris particle may plough or dig into the shaft journal or bearing liner causing heavy scoring and wear. sand or fly ash may cause heavy wear to shaft and bearing liner which may lead to bearing failure. oil viscosity (@ 55. The fact that thinner film thickness is developed at low speeds compared to higher speed. Oil filters can be very effective in reducing bearing failures due to contamination. The Kiln ID fan will be supplied with a turning gear motor for cool down.68 mPa. The main motor rotor will be turning at a very slow speed for extended periods of time. site installation. maintenance outage or improper storage. As discussed in the above section there are various operating parameters that have to be taken into consideration to estimate safe operating speed. C = 0. P = 0. motor rotor-bearing system can operate for extended hours without hydrostatic jacking lubrication system requirement.027 Pa.678C ⎜ ⎟ µ⎜ ⎟ ⎝D⎠ ⎝C ⎠ where P = projected load on bearing . operating and ambient parameters. A clean lubricating system is thus crucial to avoid heavy wear at low speeds. 7. In order to design a turning gear system it is imperative to know how low of a speed.044 2 (4) ⎛L⎞ ⎛R⎞ 4.0 kN.s.0 mm.7 mm. To circulate oil and flush out any foreign objects in the lube it is highly recommended to provide an external flood lubrication system. Presence of foreign objects such as weld beads. Lu et al [4] experimental findings provided the following empirical relation to estimate the lift off speed for full film lubrication. ambient temperature = 40. DESIGN EXAMPLE 5500 Hp sleeve bearing motor operating on a variable frequency drive has to be designed to drive a Kiln ID fan at 450 – 1200 rpm. oil type = ISO VG 68.0 0C) = 0.

8125 52 finish( µm ) 1. lubricating oil. Recommended field and maintenance practices for reliable operation and lubrication of motor bearings. 3) Operation of oil rings should be regularly inspected through the bull eye sight glass provided at top of the bearing housing. Equation 4 gives lift off speed of 104 rpm.In order to compute lowest speed for hydrodynamic lubrication. lift off speed calculation is very sensitive to surface finish. film thickness parameter λ = 10. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS In order to design reliable bearings for slow speed applications without oil jacking system it is imperative to understand regimes of lubrication. In order to design reliable bearings for slow speed applications. Design matrix in Table 1 shows the variation of lift off speed with different design parameters. Lift off speed N T is computed from equation (4). 2) Regular inspection of oil filters should be performed to ensure cleanliness of external lubricating system or any presence of debris due to bearing wear. . ambient and lubricating oil. bearing clearances. lubricating oil and film thickness parameter. For conservative lift off speed prediction surface finish of 1. As seen from Table 1. Lift off speed which represents the lowest at which full film hydrodynamic lubrication will prevail is very sensitive to surface finish. ambient and film thickness parameter. This is the lowest speed for motor rotor-bearing system at which full film due to hydrodynamic lubrication will be developed. This is also the lowest safest speed for motor bearing operation without oil jacking system. Consult motor manufacturer before using oil grade different than the motor nameplate. designers are required to perform parametric sensitivity analysis.625 104 Min 79 Bearing Nominal 92 Clearance Max 104 ISO VG 22 274 ISO VG 32 201 ISO VG 46 140 ISO VG Oil type 68 104 5 52 Film 10 104 Thickness 20 208 Parameter( λ ) 50 520 As mentioned in earlier sections this lift off speed is very sensitive to manufacturing. Detailed parametric analysis has to be performed to estimate reliable lift off speed of bearings. bearing clearances. 1) It is imperative to use the lubricating oil recommended by the motor manufacturer. TABLE I DESIGN MATRIX FOR LIFT OFF SPEED Lift off Design Parameter Speed(Rpm) 0.4062 26 Surface 0.62 µ m is considered for bearing and journal.

2005. W. and Booser. December 14. Khonsari M. 5) Start the external lubrication system before starting the motor after maintenance operation or a newly installed motor 6) During maintenance operation it is very important to inspect wear of bearing and journal. E..2006. Kannel J. vol 20. McCloskey T. Booser E R. McGraw-Hill. vol 105. REFERENCES [1] Khonsari M. . .. M. “On the Lift-off Speed in Journal Bearings”. Journal of Lubrication Technology. H. [2] Hamrock. “Wear of Steam Turbine Journal Bearings at Low Operating Speeds”. [4] Lu X. 1983. Inc. pp 313-317. 7) Measure and document bearing clearances and surface finish of journal and bearing during each maintenance operation. Machine Design. 8) During maintenance operations bearing housing and the lubrication system should be inspected and thoroughly flushed to drive out any contaminant or wear debris.. [5] Dufrane K.. R. F. pp 299-305. M. Applied Tribology Bearing Design and Lubrication. [3] Khonsari.4) Bearing operating temperature and vibration should be monitored and recorded continuously. M.. ”Proper Film Thickness key to Bearing Survival”. 2004. M. Fundamentals of Fluid Film Lubrication. John Wiley and sons. Tribology Letters.