On the Effect of Thermal Energy Transport to the Performance of (Semi) Floating Ring Bearing Systems for Automotive Turbochargers Academic Article uri icon


  • Bearing systems in engine-oil lubricated turbochargers (TCs) must operate reliably over a wide range of shaft speeds and withstand severe axial and radial thermal gradients. An engineered thermal management of the energy flows into and out of the bearing system is paramount in order to ensure the component's mechanical integrity and the robustness of the bearing system. The bearings, radial and thrust type, act both as a load bearing and low friction support with the lubricant carrying away a large fraction of the thermal energy generated by rotational drag and the heat flow disposed from a hot shaft. The paper introduces a thermohydrodynamic analysis for the prediction of the pressure and temperature fields in a (semi) floating ring bearing (S)FRB system. The analysis simultaneously solves the Reynolds equation with variable oil viscosity and the thermal energy transport equation in the inner and outer films of the bearing system. Flow conditions in both films are coupled to the temperature distribution and heat flow through the (semi) floating ring. Other constraints include calculating the fluid films' forces reacting to the externally applied load and to determine the operating journal and ring eccentricities. The predictions of performance for a unique realistic (S)FRB configuration at typical TC operating conditions reveal a distinct knowledge: (a) the heat flow from the shaft into the inner film is overwhelming, in particular, at the inlet lubricant plane where the temperature difference with the cold oil is largest; (b) the inner film temperature quickly increases as soon as the (cold) lubricant enters the film and is due to the large amount of energy generated by shear drag and the heat transfer from the shaft; (c) a floating ring develops a significant radial temperature gradient; (d) at all shaft speeds, low and high, the thermal energy carried away by the lubricant streams is no less than 70 of the total energy input; the rest is conducted through the TC casing. To warrant this thermal energy distribution, enough lubricant flow must be supplied to the bearing system. The efficient computational model offers a distinct advantage over existing lumped parameters thermal models and there is no penalty in the execution time. © 2012 American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

author list (cited authors)

  • San Andrés, L., Barbarie, V., Bhattacharya, A., & Gjika, K.

citation count

  • 25

publication date

  • August 2012