Tribo-Acoustic Sensors for In-Situ Performance and Inspection of Machine Components

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

Engineering machines, from car and planes, to power stations and production lines, have lots of moving parts. The reliability of these parts is key to the function and energy efficiency the machine. It is often these moving parts that fail and frequently that failure is associated with the rubbing surfaces. Machine elements like bearings, gears, seals, and pistons often wear out, exhibit high friction, or seize.

Knowing if a machine element is performing at its optimum can save energy and lead to long life. Being able to monitor the components in-situ in a machine can speed up the development cycle time. Further, monitoring performance rather than failure, allows allows the machine operator to plan maintenance. This is particularly important for high capital cost machines, in remote locations, like offshore wind turbines.

Current monitoring methods are based around measuring excessive vibration or the noise emitted by a failed component (acoustic emission AE) or by counting wear debris particles in a lubricant. Sensors that measure performance rather than failure, and so can be used to optimise operating parameters would be much more useful. This also opens the possibility of using advanced control based on sensor readings, Many machine components are commodities, and integrating sensors provides a way to add value to what would otherwise be a commodity product.

The Leonardo Centre at Sheffield has developed unique methods for measuring machine contacts in-situ. The approaches are based on ultrasonic technologies adapted from the NDT and dynamics communities. By sending ultrasonic pulses through machine components and measuring transmission and reflection we have been able to non-invasively study various tribological machine components. In early work we developed methods to measure the oil film thickness, and the amount of metal contact. This has been well established, validated in laboratory experiments, and applied to journal bearings, trust pads, rolling bearings, pistons, and seals. Several industrial companies have adopted these approaches in their product development cycles.

This fellowship seeks to explore new methods to learn more about contacts. Buy using different kinds of ultrasonic waves, transducer topologies, and signal processing we will develop methods to measure contact load, stress history, oil viscosity, and friction. These will be prototyped in the laboratory and we have industrial partners ready to provide field applications. In addition the fellowship seeks to collaborate with academic institutions; firstly to learn new acoustic sensor techniques and secondly to support research into machine element research with the provision of new measurement methods.

This will support the Leonardo Centre aim to be, not only the leading centre for ultrasonic measurement in tribology, but to be a key part of the UK's research infrastructure in machine component research and development both in industry and academia.

Planned Impact

The industrial beneficiaries of this research will be machine element manufacturers and major equipment suppliers, owners and operators. Potentially this could be across all industrial sectors; but principally high value products where sensor installation is cost effective, for example offshore wind, power generation, offshore oil and gas, and aerospace.

Five examples are given:
1. Wind Energy Industry. Wind power is still relatively expensive and much of this cost is associated with on-going maintenance. Wind turbine bearings for example are subject to complex loading and current lifetimes are short (5 years typical for gearbox bearing). Advanced sensor system could be used to monitor film thickness and load and detect when failure is likely and remaining useful life.

2. Power Generation. Load and air based gas turbines transit thrust through hydrodynamic bearings. These are unmonitored and their operation is not optimised during running. Sensing the bearings on the test stand could help to reduce size and weight by ensuring the individual elements carried exactly the right load at the right lubrication condition. In the longer term sensing during flight could be used to optimise their performance and hence fuel efficiency.

3. Aircraft Landing Gear - pin joints that allow articulation of the structural parts. When are the joints likely to fail, how can they best be monitored in the event of a hard landing.

4. Combustion Engines Industries. There is a global drive to improve engine efficiency and reduce emissions. Sensing of machine parts (engine bearings, piston/liner) has great value in optimising engine performance. For example, large marine diesel engines consume (i.e. burn) as much as 1 tonne of lubricating oil and 250 tonnes of fuel per day. Building a sensor system that exactly regulates lubricant flow just when it is need could significantly reduce the financial and environmental costs of operation.

5. Metal Rolling Industry. Metal rolls are largely commodity products; most R&D in the industry is based around material improvements that marginally increase wear resistance. The provision of internal sensing capability into a metal roll to monitor load, stress, lubrication, wear and surface roughness would create a functionally more useful product and add value through technology.

Impact to the nation is through increasing the competiveness of UK products. Many machine components are commodity products. One way to add value to the component is to through embedded technology. This might be in terms of component design features, or by using advanced materials. Alternatively it can be through the use of on-board monitoring and feedback. Commercial value can be added by selling a monitoring and control system along with the low-cost machine element. This requires the in-situ sensing capability that is a deliverable of this fellowship.

Indirectly, nationwide impact is achieved through the availability of lower cost energy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. This is through the more efficient use of natural resources. A well-designed machine element operating at its optimum point is smaller, lighter, lasts longer, and consumes less energy. In-situ sensing enables that design and operating optimisation.

Publications

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Adeyemi G (2021) Ultrasonic technique for measurement of oil-film thickness in metal cold rolling in Tribology - Materials, Surfaces & Interfaces

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Adeyemi G (2020) Non-intrusive measurement of strip thickness and roll-bite length in metal rolling in Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture

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Brunskill H (2020) An evaluation of ultrasonic arrays for the static and dynamic measurement of wheel-rail contact pressure and area in Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology

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Carretta Y (2017) Ultrasonic roll bite measurements in cold rolling: Contact length and strip thickness in Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology

 
Description 1. We have developed a new sensor for measuring the viscosity of oil samples inside vessels, tanks, and pipes. The method uses the reflection of ultrasound with a matching layer (acting like a non-reflective coating on sunglasses) to enhance transmission. The sensor has been used to measure the oil film that forms inside an operating bearing, and to measure the viscosity of the oil in a car engine sump.

2. We have built a spectroscopic approach to the measurement; by changing the frequency we can excite different parts of the oil and so measure the constituent parts. We have extended this work to high power ultrasound to measure non-liner effects in lubricants.

3. We have invented a new method for measuring very thin surface layers by using multiple superimposed ultrasonic reflections.

4. We have invented a new method for measuring friction at an interface by using high power non-linear ultrasound

5. We have used these new techniques to measure aspects of rolling bearing performance (grease flow, skew, skidding) but in there lab and on a wind turbine in the Barnesmore field.

6. We have worked with the marine diesel industry (DNV) to evaluate lubrication using environmentally friendly oils in stern tube bearings to create new design standards.

7. We have worked with two companies (Ricardo, CT-Perkins) to validate their design codes with our experimental measurements

8. We have applied layer measuring methods to lithium-ion batteries to assess state of charge and health. We have invited a way to reconstruct the layered structure inside a battery from a transmitted or reflected acoustic measurement, based on a genetic algorithm approach.
Exploitation Route To monitor engine oils for degradation - so they can be changed when only when needed and not at regular service intervals.

To assist in the design of bearings - ensuring that oil viscosity is maintained in the places where it is needed.

To measure being performance in-situ (eg to assess whether a bearing is installed and lubricated correctly).

To assist in measurement of lubricant degradation.

To measure deposited liquid and solid layers on a free surface

To measure friction in-situ in machine parts

To measure the state of charge or state of health of a lithium-ion battery, and to assess functionality of a second life battery.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics,Energy,Transport

URL http://www.leonardocentre.net
 
Description Several sensor systems have been installed on industrial equipment for the purpose of monitoring or product development. We have developed methods for measuring load in rolling element bearings with ultrasonic sensors. These have been installed on a wind turbine in Northern Ireland owned by Scottish Energy. This has been done in a project joint with Ricardo - they are using the data to verify perforce of their novel 'Multi-life' bearing design, and to validate their codes for wind turbine transmissions. We have worked with Wartsila WinGD to install sensors on a marine diesel engine at Winterthur, this has been used to develop a control system for the flow of oil into the cylinders. We have worked with DNV to study the behaviour of environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs) for stern tube application - this has led to changes in the regulatory framework for their use. We have worked with CAT-Perkins to validate their design codes using our experimental measurements. RA's employed on the project (Brunskill and under) have formed a spin-out company, Peak-to-Peak Ltd that has implemented some of these methods on industrial cases they have customers including Total, Rolls-Royce, Imflux, Hyundai, Crown, Waukesha, Kluber). The company employs 8 people (FTEs) and annual turnover around £300k and growing.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Transport
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description DNV GL: Performance of EALs triggers update to shaft alignment rules
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to a national consultation/review
Impact The JDP was prompted by an upsurge in stern tube bearing failures that coincided with the increased uptake of EALs after the introduction of regulations requiring their use in commercial vessels trading in U.S. waters in late 2013. In phase 1 the JDP has focused on mapping out differences in the load carrying capacity between EALs and mineral oils. DNV GL has overseen detailed laboratory testing by Leonardo Testing Services Ltd. at the University of Sheffield, UK, and by INSAVALOR at INSA Lyon, France.
URL https://www.dnvgl.com/news/dnv-gl-performance-of-eals-triggers-update-to-shaft-alignment-rules-14916...
 
Description Daido Metals PhD Studentship
Amount £85,849 (GBP)
Organisation Daido Metal 
Sector Private
Country Japan
Start 09/2019 
End 09/2023
 
Description Development of Ultrasonic Oil Condition and Level Sensors for Use with NEXCEL
Amount £83,296 (GBP)
Funding ID 1947955 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 09/2021
 
Description Federal Railroad Administration Track Stress Measurement Project
Amount £116,279 (GBP)
Funding ID FRA-TR-001 
Organisation Federal Railroad Administration 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start 01/2020 
End 12/2021
 
Description Jaguar Land Rover Phd Studentship Piston rings
Amount £40,000 (GBP)
Organisation Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC 
Department Jaguar Land Rover
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 09/2021
 
Description Network rail In2Track2 rail stress
Amount £75,728 (GBP)
Funding ID 23807/02/4539 
Organisation Network Rail Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2020 
End 05/2021
 
Description ORE Catapult Powertrain Research Hub
Amount £699,269 (GBP)
Organisation ORE Catapult 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 12/2024
 
Description TTRF Foundation SH waves for viscosity measurement
Amount £29,113 (GBP)
Organisation The Taiho Kogyo Tribology Research Foundation 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2023
 
Description The Timken Company Studentship
Amount £80,000 (GBP)
Organisation Timken Company 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 09/2018 
End 09/2022
 
Description Ultrasonic Piston Lubrication Monitoring and the Effects of Distortion and Deterioration
Amount £83,296 (GBP)
Funding ID 1947853 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 09/2021
 
Description Use of ultrasound for estimating state of charge and state of health in lithium-ion batteries.
Amount £83,296 (GBP)
Funding ID 1949045 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 09/2021
 
Description WD-40 Next generation oil film measurements
Amount £25,000 (GBP)
Organisation WD-40 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 01/2017 
End 12/2017
 
Title A New Device for In-Situ Measurement of Lubricant Viscosity using a Matching Layer 
Description A device that allows measurement of viscosity inside a vessel, tan, or pipeline with no direct contact between the sensor and sample. Based on the reflection of shear polarised ultrasound and the use of a matching layer to aid transmission. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact In progress 
 
Title Device for load measurement in rolling bearings 
Description Ultrasonic measurement system for determining direct load application between rollers and raceways in rolling element bearings. Of particular use in wind turbines bearings. Evaluated in Barnesmore field wind turbine. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Licenced patent to Ricardo. Used to help design of main shaft bearing for Siemens Gamesa. 
 
Title Device for lubrication measurement in rolling bearings 
Description Ultrasonic measurement system for determining direct lubricant flow around a rolling bearing. Of particular use in wind turbines bearings. Evaluated in Barnesmore field wind turbine. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact PhD student sponsored by Timken. Evaluated on data from Barnesmore field wind turbine 
 
Title In-situ ultrasonic device for measuring battery state of charge and state of health 
Description Ultrasonic sensors bonded onto a lithium ion battery. Sound waves reflect back from the various interfaces sin a battery. This new research tool helps to determine what aspects fo the reflected signal give the most information about the battery electrode state. This is correlated to a batter charge during normal and abusive charge cycles. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None yet 
 
Title Method for measurement of oil and grease layers in rolling bearing inlet and outlet regions 
Description Using ultrasonic resonance to determine layer thickness around a bearing. This helps decide how well a bearing is lubricated as this residual film controls the oil film between rollers and raceways. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact none yet. 
 
Description AC2T Sensors for in-situ viscometry 
Organisation AC2T Research
Country Austria 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a joint project to build sensors that measure the viscosity of liquids inside confined spaces such as bearings and oil films. Ac2T have funded a PhD students. we have been trialing sensors on their labs test platforms.
Collaborator Contribution Access to lab test platforms in coding a high pressure oil tester. PhD funding and steering.
Impact Conference presentation at World Tribology Congressional 2022
Start Year 2021
 
Description CAT-Perkins validation of engine bearing design codes 
Organisation Perkins Engines Company Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution CAT-Perkins validation of engine bearing design codes. Using measurement techniques on engine bearing test rigs (static and dynamic) in the lab for use in validation CAT's deist codes (BEAR)
Collaborator Contribution Funded consultancy work. Supply of test lubricants
Impact Ongoing validation of design codes
Start Year 2020
 
Description Daido Metals Ltd 
Organisation Daido Metal
Country Japan 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Design and build of a bearing shell condition monitoring sensor
Collaborator Contribution Funding PhD studentship at full rate. Supply of bearing shells and technical knowledges cues to laboratory test platform
Impact Funded PhD studentship
Start Year 2019
 
Description Federal Railroad Association, FRA 
Organisation Federal Railroad Administration
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have been working with FRA to develop sensors for detecting rail stress using transmitted ultrasound through the rail web. This is important to detect rail buckling in summer months.
Collaborator Contribution Project funding and steering.
Impact Early stages at present no impact or outputs.
Start Year 2021
 
Description GE Wind research on pitch bearings and grease 
Organisation General Electric
Department General Electric Renewable Energy, UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Sponsoring of two PhD studentships to study pitch bearing lubrication and performance
Collaborator Contribution Financial suppler of industrial supervision.
Impact none yet
Start Year 2022
 
Description Jaguar Land Rover 
Organisation Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC
Department Jaguar Land Rover
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Ultrasonic transducers have been used on a Jaguar Land Rover Ingenium engine to provide information on the oil films on various lubricated automotive components.
Collaborator Contribution Jaguar Land Rover have provided the engine in which this work is based on and provide technical support through the project.
Impact The project is still underway and therefore does not have any outputs yet.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Network Rail - detecting neutral rail temperature in railway track 
Organisation Network Rail Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have been working with Network Rail to develop sensors for detecting rail stress using transmitted ultrasound through the rail web. This is important to detect rail buckling in summer months.
Collaborator Contribution Project funding and steering. Track samples and access to test track for field trials.
Impact early stage no impact or outputs yet
Start Year 2020
 
Description WinGD instrumentation of marine diesel engines 
Organisation Winterthur Gas & Diesel
Country Switzerland 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Web have built series of sensors for measuring performance of marine deisel engine piston rings and oil feed lines. These have been trialled on the RTX engine at Winterthur. WinGD sponsor a PhD students to deliver aspects of this work.
Collaborator Contribution Funding a PhD students. Access to the test engine and provision of technical guidance.
Impact Early stages of this part of the collaboration no i pact yet.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Winterthur Gas & Diesel 
Organisation Winterthur Gas & Diesel
Country Switzerland 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Ultrasonic transducers have been used on a WinGD Diesel Marine engine to provide information on the oil films on various lubricated automotive components.
Collaborator Contribution Provided technical support to enable the work to take place.
Impact The data gathered from this testing is being used for two papers that are in process of being written.
Start Year 2018
 
Title Continuous Wave Ultrasound for Analysis of a Surface 
Description A method using continuous ultrasonic waves to measure the properties of surface coating and layers. Normally the layers are so tin that they comely reflect sound. But using continuous waves we can amplify their effect. This means we can measure the viscosity, thickness, and presence of thin films on solid metal surfaces. 
IP Reference GB1522677.2 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2016
Licensed No
Impact Still in progress
 
Title Deriving Contact Stress or Contact Load using Ultrasound Data 
Description A method to measure the load imparted between the balls or rollers and raceways in a rolling being. This has application to wind turbine bearings where highly variable wind loading and gearbox dynamics leads to uncertainty in bearing loading. 
IP Reference GB1414998.3 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2015
Licensed Yes
Impact Licensed to Ricardo Innovations Ltd
 
Company Name Leonardo Testing Services Ltd 
Description A consultancy company to provide tribological testing services. 
Year Established 2016 
Impact Support for several industrial companies (Ivista, BPC, Lubricants UK, WD40, Wrekin, Ricardo innovationsLtd, Rolls-Royce) in product design and development.
 
Company Name PEAK TO PEAK MEASUREMENT SOLUTIONS LTD. 
Description Two RA's for the University of Sheffield Leonardo Centre set Peak to Peak up to provide tribo-acoustic measurement services to industry. The develop bespoke sensors systems for rotating machinery and tribological components which they install at the companies site. They have carried out projects on bearings, auto-engine parts, and marine engine transmissions. 
Year Established 2018 
Impact The company is recently setup so there are no major impacts to report. Currently they are working on environmentally friendly lubricants (EALs) for marine use. This is intended for implementation in legislation and will have environmental impact.
 
Description Keynote 6th Asia International Conference on Tribology Kuching 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote talk to conference attendees. Using Ultrasound to Measure the Buried Interface', Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. Audience 250
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Keynote 6th World Tribology Congress, Beijing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 6th World Tribology Congress, Beijing, Keynote, 17-22 Sep 2017, Measuring Interfaces and Lubricants with Small Shear Ultrasonic Vibrations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Lion TV 'Making of the Forbidden City' TV Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Segment on a TV show entitled 'Making of the Forbidden City'. Article on how the block were transported on ice. Some live demos of rocks sliding on ce at an ice rink and explanations of friction processes to a general audience. Broadcast prime time on Channel 4, PBS in the US, and French TV.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018