ActiLub - Active Control of Lubricant Temperature in Individual Bearings

01 May 2021 → Ongoing
Regional and community funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Manufacturing automation
    • Manufacturing management
    • Manufacturing process planning
    • Manufacturing systems
Project description

High performant and power dense electromechanical systems (e.g. weaving looms, compressors, gearboxes, drivetrains, …) need oil lubrication to reduce friction and resulting wear in a contact between two surfaces and to efficiently dissipate heat from the lubrication points. These systems consist of multiple oil lubricated bearings of various types, which typically operate under different and/or varying conditions (load, speed, temperature). Ideally the lubrication properties have been adapted to these operating conditions. However, in practice in most machinery a single uncontrolled lubricant circuit is used with multiple oil lubricated bearings, compromising the optimal lubrication properties. As such, each individual bearing operates under suboptimal lubrication conditions, leading globally to an increased Total-Cost-of-Ownership (TCO) due to reduced energy efficiency, reduced component lifetime and increased maintenance and downtime.

In that view, ActiLUB will analyze and develop strategies to actively control and optimize the local lubricant thermomechanical properties (i.e. viscosity, density, thermal conductivity, specific heat) per bearing (group) by active control of lubricant temperature and flow. This can be achieved through various scenarios including Lubricant conditioning and raceway conditioning involving heating/cooling elements of respectively supply lines and bearing surfaces.

To overcome the scientific and technological barriers for such technology, the design of accurate multiscale models fully capturing the thermomechanical lubricant properties at contact and bearing level and development of proper active temperature control strategies will be essential. If successful, this project will turn the lubrication circuit into an actively controlled system with sense, control and act capabilities which can be integrated in combination with off-the-shelve bearings.