BOUNDARY LUBRICATION AND ELASTOHYDRODYNAMIC

LUBRICATION

8.1. Introduction
8.2. Boundary lubrications
8.3. Mixed Lubrication
8.4. Elastohydrodynamic Lubrications

8.1. Introduction:
In many practical applications there are cases where the operating conditions are
such that neither hydrodynamic nor EHD lubrication is effective. The question then is:
how are the interacting machine components lubricated and what is the lubrication
mechanism involved? The models of lubrication which are thought to operate under such
conditions are discussed in this chapter. The traditional name for this type of lubrication
is 'boundary lubrication'. Neither of these terms describes accurately the processes at
work since they were conceived long before any fundamental understanding of the
mechanisms was available. Several specialized modes of lubrications such as adsorption,
surface localized viscosity enhancement, amorphous layers and sacrificial films are
commonly involved in this lubrication regime to ensure the smooth-functioning and
reliability of machinery. The imprecise nature of present knowledge about these modes or
mechanisms of lubrication controls with their practical importance. Many vital items of
engineering equipments such as steel gears, piston-rings and metal-working tools depend
on one or more of these lubrication modes to prevent severe wear or high coefficients of
friction and seizure.
Boundary and E.P. lubrication is a complex phenomenon. The lubrication
mechanisms involved can be classified in terms of relative load capacity and limiting
frictional temperature as shown in table 8'1, and they will be described in this chapter.
These lubrication mechanisms are usually controlled by additives present in the
oil. Since the cost of a lubricant additive is usually negligible compared to the, value of
the mechanical equipments, the commercial benefits involved in this type of lubrication
can be quite large.
In general, boundary and E.P. lubrication involves the formation of low friction,
protective layers on the wearing surfaces. One exception is when the surface-localized
viscosity enhancement takes place. The occurrence of surface-localized viscosity
enhancement, however, is extremely limited as is explained in the next section.
8.2. Boundary Lubrications:
The operating principle of the boundary lubrication regime can perhaps be best
illustrated by considering the coefficient of friction. In simple terms the coefficient of
friction „µ.‟ is defined as the ratio of frictional force „F‟ and the load applied normal to
the surface „W‟, i.e.:
µ = F/W ... (8.1)
TABLE 8.1 Categories of boundary and E.P. lubrication.
Temperature Load Lubrication and mechanisms
Low
Low
Viscosity enhancement close to contacting surface, not
specific to lubricant.
High
Friction minimization by coverage of contacting surfaces with
adsorbed mono-molecular layers of surfactants.
High
Medium
Irreversible formation of soap layers and other viscous
materials on worn surface by chemical reaction between
lubricant additives and metal surface. Surface-localized
viscosity enhancement specific to lubricant additive and base
stock. Formation of amorphous layers of finely divided debris
from reaction between additives and substrate metal surface.
High
Reaction between lubricant additives and metal surface.
Formation of sacrificial films of inorganic material on the
worn surface preventing metallic contact and severe wear.

Since the contacting surfaces are covered by asperities, „dry‟ contact is
established between the individual asperities and the „true‟ total contact area is the sum of
the individual contact areas between the asperities. Assuming that the major component
of the frictional force is due to adhesion between the asperities (other effects, e.g.
ploughing, are negligible), then the expression for frictional force „F‟ can be written as:
F = A
t
t where, F is the frictional force [N];
A
t
is the true contact [m
2
];
t is the effective shear stress of the material [Pa].
Applied load can be expressed in terms of contact area, i.e.:
W = A
t
p
y

Where: P
y
is the plastic flow stress of the material (close in value to the
indentation hardness) [Pa].
Substituting for „F‟ and „W‟ to (8.1) yields:
µ = t / p
y
... (8.2)
8.3. Mixed Lubrication:
Most sliding contacts of practical importance, e.g. high speed gearing, are not
lubricated by either purely hydrodynamic, elastohydrodynamic or by classical adsorption
lubrication. Usually two lubrication mechanisms act simultaneously and both are
essential for lowering friction and wear. In many cases most of the applied load is
supported by hydrodynamic or EHD lubrication. However, some additional lubrication
mechanism is required to reduce friction and wear in contacts between large asperities
from opposing surfaces. Even if the fraction of load supported by non-hydrodynamic
means is small, severe wear and perhaps seizure can occur if this additional component of
lubrication is not available. This particular lubrication regime where several mechanisms
act simultaneously is termed „mixed lubrication‟. The current model of this lubrication
regime is illustrated schematically in figure 8.1.

Fig. 8.1 Model of mixed lubrication
Mixed lubrication allows much smaller film thicknesses than pure hydrodynamic
lubrication or EHL. Reduced film thickness coincides with increased load and contact
pressure, if other factors remain unchanged, and this characteristic is the basic reason for
the importance of „mixed lubrication‟.
8.4. Elastohydrodynamic Lubrications (EHL) :
Elastohydrodynamic lubrication can be briefly described as “the study of
situations in which elastic deformation of the surrounding solids plays a significant role
in the hydrodynamic lubrication process”. In most machine applications, forces are
transmitted from one component to another by means of large effective bearing areas, but
it is not uncommon to find in additional nominal line or point contacts. Typical examples
of the latter are gears and rolling contact bearings and these perhaps constitute the most
commonly encountered applications of the elastohydrodynamic phenomenon occurring
between metallic surfaces. It has been recognized for years that many loaded contacts of
low geometrical conformity behave as though they are hydrodynamically lubricated, yet
in the absence of elastohydrodynamic theory, the Reynolds theory of hydrodynamic
lubrication fails to predict why adequate lubrication should exist at all under what
appears to be the most severe and limiting stress conditions. For example, the line contact
of meshing involute gears suggests extremely high pressures (since the area across which
forces are transmitted appears to approach zero), and in the absence of elastic distortion
of the gear teeth it is difficult to imagine a lubricant capable of resisting such pressure.
By allowing for changes in lubricant viscosity with pressure and elastic deformation of
the contacting solids, however, it can be shown that (in agreement with experience)
adequate lubricant will persist under such conditions.
The two significant effects which occur in elastohydrodynamic situations and are
not accounted for in the classical theory are (a) the influence of high pressure on the
viscosity of liquid lubricants, and (b) substantial local deformation of the elastic solids.
These effects drastically change the geometry of the lubricating film which in turn
alters the pressure distribution at the contacts. In essence, the hydrodynamic pressure
generation must be matched with the elastic pressures in the contacting solids, and a
solution to the combined lubrication and elastic equations gives the final
elastohydrodynamic condition at the contact spots.
Although the phenomenon of elastohydrodynamic lubrication was first discovered
as a result of the need for understanding the lubrication of gears and roller bearings, there
has been an increasing interest during the last decade in the lubrication of soft, flexible
surfaces made from elastomeric or polymeric materials. Typical applications such as the
lubrication of windshield wipers, reciprocating and rotary lip seals, flexible-pad thrust
bearings, and automobile tyres sliding and rolling on wet roads. Both the rigid-rigid and
rigid-flexible types of elastohydrodynamic lubrication are treated fundamentally in this
chapter, and it will be seen that distinct difference arises between the two mechanisms.
Before proceeding in this direction, it is first necessary to establish the general nature of
the elastohyclrodynamic problem and the method of solution.
General Iterative Procedure:
The elastohydrodynamic problem involves an iterative procedure to establish
compatibility between the hydrodynamic pressures generated in the lubricating film,
which separates two elastic bodies in relative motion and the elastic pressures which are
developed between the bodies as a consequence of their virtual contact, In simple terms,
we assume some initial film thickness which is inserted in the Reynolds equation to
obtain a pressure distribution.

Fig: 8· 2 The General Iterative Procedure in Elastohydrodynamic Lubrication
If the latter is now inserted in the appropriate elastic equation, an initial estimate
of the elastic displacements is obtained which is then used to modify the original assumed
film-thickness distribution. The iteration continues until the modified film-thickness
distribution is little different from the assumed distribution in anyone iterative step.
Figure 8.1 depicts the iterative sequence in schematic form.
Consider as a specific example of the procedure outlined in Fig. 8.3 the case of a
rigid cylinder approaching a flexible or elastic plane in the pressure of a lubricant. (In
point of fact the distortion of the elastic plane 2 in Fig. 8.2 can be considered as the sum
of the distortions produced in both cylinder and plane if the cylinder is not assumed to be
rigid: thus the example has general validity. and the rigidity of body 1 in the figure does
not limit the generality of the model.) Let h
0
represent the centre-line film thickness at
any instant measured from the base of the cylinder to the under formed profile of the
elastic plane. The actual film thickness h at any x below the cylinder and within the area
of contact is given by
h = h
0
+ x
2
+ w
0

2R

Fig.:8· 3 Example of general Elastohydrodynamic problem: Rigid Cylinder on
Flexible Plane
Where R is the radius of the cylinder and w is the local elastic deflection of the
lower surface. From elasticity considerations we can write for w

w = – 2 p(s) ln (x – 1)
2
dlf
tE‟
Where the equivalent Young‟s modulus E‟ is defined as
1 = 1 1 – v
1
2
+ 1 – v
2
2

E‟ 2 E
1
E
2

and the suffixes 1 and 2 refer to cylinder to cylinder and plane respectively, as
shown. The pressure p(s) in equation (8.2) is variable between the limits s
1
and s
2
, but the
}
logarithm in the same integrand gives difficulties in numerical integration (since at x = s,
the logarithmic function approaches the value minus infinity). One means of avoiding
these difficulties is to write p(s) in the form of a polynomial thus:
n
p(s) = P
0
¿ A
i
s
i


1
The final expression for displacement w becomes:

n
twE’ + const = ¿ A
i
f
i

2R
1
which can be computed. Usually, three terms of the series expression for f
i
are
sufficient to estimate w accurately.
During normal approach of the cylinder in Fig. 8.3, the following form of the
Reynolds equation is appropriate:
c h
3
cp = ch
cx 12q cx ct
and the boundary conditions for the pressure p may be taken as
ln v cp = 0 ln (p) = 0
x÷·
cx
x÷·

It is interesting to note that the initial estimate of the pressure distribution under
the cylinder is the hydrodynamic effect, since hydrodynamic conditions predominate
during the initial stages of the approach. However, the final equilibrium of the cylinder
on the elastic plane is a function only of the elastic properties of the base. Thus the
hydrodynamic pressure distribution converges in the case of normal approach to the
Hertzian or elastic distribution.
We must again emphasize the generality of the approach problem in fig. 8.2. It is
a well known fact that the contact between many machine elements can be represented by
two geometrically and kinematically equivalent cylinders. This in turn can be reduced
either to a single elastic cylinder near a plane rigid boundary or a single rigid cylinder
near a plane flexible boundary, as shown in Fig. 8.3. In this manner, the elastic,
hydrodynamic and kinematic conditions of the original contact are adequately simulated.
Finally, the method of iteration described in this section mayor may not be
directly applicable in its existing form to particular lubrication problems. Thus in metal-
on-metal applications the elastohydrodynamic pressures generated changes the viscosity
of the lubricant by many orders of magnitude, and in sliding applications thermal effects
occur which must be accounted for.
Fundamental Parameters (Normal):
Three significant design parameters in elastohydrodynamic theory are as follows:
Load Parameter w’ = wE’R
Speed Parameter U’ = µ
0
U
ER
Material Parameter G = mE’
where W‟ and U‟ are dimensionless. W is the load per unit width of cylinder (see
fig. 8.4), R the effective radius of the roller pair, E‟ an effective modulus. U the relative
sliding speed, µ
0
a constant value of lubricant viscosity, and m the pressure exponent of
viscosity according to the following relationship:
µ = µ
0
exp
np


Fig: 8.4 Film shape and Pressure Distribution in EHD

( Questions )
1. Explain the boundary lubrication mechanisms.
2. What is mixed lubrication? Under what circumstances the mixed lubrication is
applicable?
3. Write the application of electrohydrodynamic lubrications. Write the design
parameter of electrohydrodynamic lubrication.

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