Mechanisms of Rolling Contact Fatigue in Lubricated Rolling Contacts

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Mechanical Engineering


The project aims to provide improved understanding of surface initiated rolling contact fatigue (RCF) damage in rolling/sliding lubricated contacts. This has applications to a wide range of mechanical components including rolling element bearing and gears. RCF manifests itself as pitting or micropitting surface failures. With current trends for use of lower viscosity lubricating oils and increased power density of machines, tribological contacts in engineering applications are having to operate under relatively thin lubricant films leading to increased amount of metal-to-metal contact and hence more surface initiated fatigue damage. Therefore, the focus of this research is on surface initiated RCF cracks which occur at asperity contact level, as opposed to macro-contact level, and commonly lead to microptting damage. The project utilises a triple-disc RCF test machine to generate surface fatigue damage and study the influence of parameters including material, surface finish, slide-roll ratio and contact pressure under controlled contact conditions. This will in turn provide the understanding needed to improve our predictive tools of this type of damage, and the later stages of the project will attempt to utilise our exiting contact mechanics models and the knowledge generated in these experiments to provide numerical predictions of crack initiation and subsequent progression of surface fatigue damage.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509486/1 01/10/2016 31/03/2022
2168744 Studentship EP/N509486/1 01/10/2017 31/08/2021 Benjamin Wainwright
Description The work focuses on the study of micropitting which is a form fatigue damage most commonly associated with machine elements such as bearings and gears. The fundamental mechanisms behind micropitting are poorly understood and this work aims on finding parameters that effect the onset and severity of micropitting in order to predict, control and potentially eliminate micropitting.
Exploitation Route The work could be used to create new engineering standards for gear design with the aim to increase the longevity of gears in conditions prone to micropitting.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport