What Are The Different Types Of Lubrication?

Five distinct forms of lubrication may be identified:
1 Hydrodynamic
2 Hydrostatic
3 Elastohydrodynamic
4 Boundary
5 Solid film

Hydrodynamic lubrication means that the load-carrying surfaces of the bearing are separated by a relatively thick film of lubricant, so as to prevent metal-to-metal contact, and that the stability thus obtained can be explained by the laws of fluid mechanics.

Hydrodynamic lubrication does not depend upon the introduction of the lubricant under pressure, though that may occur; but it does require the existence of an adequate supply at all times.

The film pressure is created by the moving surface itself pulling the lubricant into a wedge-shaped zone at a velocity sufficiently high to create the pressure necessary to separate the surfaces against the load on the bearing. Hydrodynamic lubrication is also called full-film, or fluid, lubrication.

Hydrostatic lubrication is obtained by introducing the lubricant, which is sometimes air or water, into the load-bearing area at a pressure high enough to separate the surfaces with a relatively thick film of lubricant. So, unlike hydrodynamic lubrication, this kind of lubrication does not require motion of one surface relative to another.

We shall not deal with hydrostatic lubrication in this book, but the subject should be considered in designing bearings where the velocities are small or zero and where the frictional resistance is to be an absolute minimum.

Elastohydrodynamic lubrication is the phenomenon that occurs when a lubricant is introduced between surfaces that are in rolling contact, such as mating gears or rolling bearings. The mathematical explanation requires the Hertzian theory of contact stress and fluid mechanics.

Insufficient surface area, a drop in the velocity of the moving surface, a lessening in the quantity of lubricant delivered to a bearing, an increase in the bearing load, or an increase in lubricant temperature resulting in a decrease in viscosity—any one of these—may prevent the buildup of a film thick enough for full-film lubrication.

When this happens, the highest asperities may be separated by lubricant films only several molecular dimensions in thickness. This is called boundary lubrication. The change from hydrodynamic to boundary lubrication is not at all a sudden or abrupt one.

It is probable that a mixed hydrodynamic- and boundary-type lubrication occurs first, and as the surfaces move closer together, the boundary-type lubrication becomes predominant. The viscosity of the lubricant is not of as much importance with boundary lubrication as is the chemical composition.

When bearings must be operated at extreme temperatures, a solid-film lubricant such as graphite or molybdenum disulfide must be used because the ordinary mineral oils are not satisfactory. Much research is currently being carried out in an effort, too, to find composite bearing materials with low wear rates as well as small frictional coefficients.

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