Indexed on: 29 May '18Published on: 24 Apr '18Published in: Lubricants
Nowadays, hydropower plants are forced to have more frequent power control and the self-lubricated bearings used in the applications are one of the most critical components affected by the continuously changing operating conditions. In this study, microstructure and composition of two commercially available bearing materials (Orkot TXM Marine and Thordon ThorPlas) used in hydropower turbines were studied. In addition, the influence of sliding speed and applied pressure on the friction and wear behavior of the materials was investigated systematically for dry sliding conditions. The bearing materials were characterized using X-ray microtomography, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and Inductively Coupled Plasma–Sector Field Mass Spectrometry (ICP-SFMS) techniques. Friction and wear tests were carried out with a polymer pin sliding against a stainless steel (SS2333) plate with a linear reciprocating motion. Test conditions were: room temperature, 9–28 MPa pressure and 10–40 mm/s sliding speed ranges. Surface analysis of the polymer pins and the wear tracks were performed by optical profilometry, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) techniques. Test results show that, for both materials, the coefficient of friction (COF) is decreasing at higher pressures. Surface analysis reveals higher concentrations of solid lubricants in the transfer layers formed at higher pressures, explaining the decrease in COF. Furthermore, the specific wear rate coefficients are increasing at higher sliding speeds, especially at lower pressures. Results of this study demonstrate that, under dry sliding conditions, changes in sliding speed and pressure have a significant influence on the tribological behavior of these bearing materials.