Experimental Study on the Effect of Marine Engine Lubricant Degradation on Tribological Performance of Cylinder Liner and Piston Rings Contact Using a Tuning Fork Technology Based Oil Sensor

Authors: Anand, M., Hadfield, M., viesca, J.-L. and Thomas, B.

Start date: 5 November 2019

An investigation was carried out to study the effect of change in oil quality on its tribological performance using a tuning fork technology based oil sensor. In this research, a tribological testing system was commissioned, to simulate the piston ring-cylinder liner sliding contact, and to measure the lubricant condition in real-time using an oil sensor. Tribological contact between cylinder liners and piston rings in marine engines is the most affected region due to excessive thermo-mechanical stresses. At top dead centre, the effect of such stresses is maximum where piston-sliding speed is less, temperature is high due to fuel combustion, and radial load behind the piston rings compressing against cylinder liner surface is maximum due to gas pressure and compression fit of piston rings within the cylinder liner. At bottom dead centre, this effect is less severe due to reduction in temperature and gas pressure on piston rings, as piston is positioned away from the combustion chamber. These two regions experience boundary lubrication conditions, where anti-wear and anti-friction additives are responsible to form a protective lubricious film on sliding surfaces. At mid-stroke, piston-sliding speed is maximum, therefore, a full hydrodynamic film is formed in this region separating the piston rings and cylinder liner. Formation of oil film depends upon, physical properties of oil (such as viscosity and density) under hydrodynamic lubrication conditions, and oil chemistry (such as presence of additives in oil) under mixed or boundary lubrication conditions. Lubricants in marine engines undergo intense degradation in quality due to contamination with wear particles, water, soot, un-burnt fuel, coolant, and depleting additives. Such degradation of lubricants leads to reduction in their capability to form a minimum thickness of oil film between two moving engine components to avoid direct metal-to-metal contact, which may cause wear. Therefore, monitoring the condition of marine engine lubricants is vital in order to predict any significant change in its quality. The results obtained from tribology testing and oil condition monitoring in the current research showed a good correlation and are useful to understand the performance of lubricant for piston ring-liner contact.

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