Abstract

Sliding bearings, operating in a full hydrodynamic lubrication regime, exhibit a low friction coefficient and extended life. In recent years, with the increase in environmental awareness and pollution prevention, attention is being directed to oil spills, which pollute the environment. This is extremely prominent in ships and submarines whose propeller shafts are typically supported by oil-lubricated sliding bearings. To reduce pollution risk and also to obtain a simpler and low-cost maintenance system, the propeller shafts of numerous modern marine vessels are supported by water-lubricated bearings. An experimental investigation into the lubrication regime of a water-lubricated bearing in the propulsion train of a naval vessel is presented. A test rig was designed and built to allow testing of a scaled water-lubricated composite bearing supporting a naval vessel propeller shaft. Experimental results quantifying the effect of the rotational speed on the operating eccentricity, the friction coefficient, and the bearing’s lubrication regimes are presented. The experimentally obtained results are compared with an elastohydrodynamic lubrication (EHL) model solved by employing comsol multiphysics modeling software, and the differences are addressed. Finally, conclusions that may assist in better understanding the operation profile of the bearing and thus improving the vessel’s operability are presented.

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