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On the Stribeck Curves for

Lubricated Counterformal
Contacts of Rough Surfaces
Dong Zhu The “Stribeck curve” is a well-known concept, describing the frictional behavior of a
School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, lubricated interface during the transition from boundary and mixed lubrication up to
Sichuan University, full-film hydrodynamic/elastohydrodynamic lubrication. It can be found in nearly every
Chengdu 610065, China tribology textbook/handbook and many articles and technical papers. However, the
majority of the published Stribeck curves are only conceptual without real data from ei-
Jiaxu Wang ther experiments or numerical solutions. The limited number of published ones with real
School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, data is often incomplete, covering only a portion of the entire transition. This is because
Sichuan University, generating a complete Stribeck curve requires experimental or numerical results in an
Chengdu 610065, China extremely wide range of operating conditions, which has been a great challenge. Also,
numerically calculating a Stribeck curve requires a unified model with robust algorithms
Q. Jane Wang that is capable of handling the entire spectrum of lubrication status. In the present study,
Mechanical Engineering Department, numerical solutions in counterformal contacts of rough surfaces are obtained by using
Northwestern University, the unified deterministic mixed elastohydrodynamic lubrication (EHL) model recently
Evanston, IL 60208; developed. Stribeck curves are plotted in a wide range of speed and lubricant film thick-
State Key Laboratory of ness based on the simulation results with various types of contact geometry using
Mechanical Transmission, machined rough surfaces of different orientations. Surface flash temperature is also ana-
Chongqing University, lyzed during the friction calculation considering the mutual dependence between friction
Chongqing 400044, China and interfacial temperature. Obtained results show that in lubricated concentrated con-
tacts, friction continuously decreases as speed and film thickness increase even in
the full-film regime until extremely high speeds are reached. This is mainly due to the
reduction of lubricant limiting shear stress caused by flash temperature rise. The results
also reveal that contact ellipticity and roughness orientation have limited influence on
frictional behaviors, especially in the full-film and boundary lubrication regimes.
[DOI: 10.1115/1.4028881]

Keywords: Stribeck curve, friction, elastohydrodynamic lubrication (EHL), mixed EHL,

flash temperature, roughness effect

Introduction In the mixed lubrication regime as the speed increases, friction

drops drastically due to the increase in lubricant film thickness
Machine elements may often operate in a wide range of operat-
and the reduction of surface asperity contact caused by the
ing conditions that result in a great variation of interfacial friction
enhancement of the hydrodynamic effect. When the interface
mainly due to the change of lubrication status. The Stribeck curve
gradually enters the full-film hydrodynamic or elastohydrody-
is an overall view of friction variation over the entire spectrum of
namic lubrication regime, friction may reach its minimum and
lubrication, including the boundary, mixed, and full-film hydrody-
then slowly rise due to the increase in lubricant shear strain rate in
namic or elastohydrodynamic lubrication regimes. Its concept was
the film. This Stribeck curve concept has now been widely
initialized by Stribeck [1] and further developed by Hersey [2]
accepted, so that it can be found in nearly every tribology/lubrica-
and others in the beginning of the last century, mainly for describ-
tion handbook or textbook, as well as a countless number of
ing frictional behaviors of journal bearings. It has now been
articles and technical papers. Note that today when drawing a Stri-
extended to other types of contact geometry for various engineer-
beck curve one may also use a different parameter for the x-axis,
ing applications. The understanding and utilization of the Stribeck
and the choices include speed, film thickness (k) ratio, and others.
curves have advanced from friction expressions to the division of
lubrication regimes (see Ref. [3]). In recent years, as the mixed
lubrication research has been fast advancing, the Stribeck curve
study has attracted increasingly more attention.
A schematic of the Stribeck curve for journal bearing is
illustrated in Fig. 1, which demonstrates the basic trend of friction
variation as a function of the “Hersey number” (the product of
viscosity and rotational speed divided by the average pressure).
Basically, in the boundary lubrication regime the coefficient of
friction is high and quite constant, and is not significantly influ-
enced by operating conditions such as speed and load. This is
because the hydrodynamic action is negligible or weak and fric-
tion is dominated by the surface and boundary film characteristics.

Contributed by the Tribology Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL

OF TRIBOLOGY. Manuscript received June 11, 2014; final manuscript received October
19, 2014; published online November 17, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Xiaolan Ai. Fig. 1 Schematic of the Stribeck curve (from Ref. [11])

Journal of Tribology Copyright V

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the shear strain rate are still low, so that the Newtonian fluid
models may still be used for simulating frictional behaviors. Also,
since the contacting area is usually large and rough surface asper-
ity contact deformation small, typically various types of stochastic
model are employed when analyzing rough surface mixed lubrica-
tion. The boundary lubrication friction coefficient is usually
assumed to be a constant determined experimentally.
In concentrated contacts, on the other hand, high pressure is
concentrated in a small contact zone, and shear strain rate is also
high due to very thin lubricant film. Under the circumstances, a
non-Newtonian fluid model is needed as described above. The
Stribeck curves based on ball-on-disk experiments have been pre-
sented by Guangteng and Spikes [13], Zhu and Wang [14], Zhu
[9], and others. However, the curves presented in Refs. [9,13,14]
appear to be incomplete, covering only a portion of the entire
lubrication transition, due to limited ability of test apparatus for
precisely varying the speed in an extended wide range. Calculated
Stribeck curves for line contacts can be founded in the papers
Fig. 2 Measured sliding friction in an EHL circular contact
by Gelinck and Schipper [15], Lu et al. [10], and Faraon and
(from Ref. [9], test conducted by Wedeven Associates, Inc.) Schipper [16], and those for point contacts by Redlich et al. [17].
Note that a typical calculation method has been described in Ref.
[15], which employs Greenwood and Williamson’s stochastic
Frictional characteristics of lubricated counterformal contacts model [18] to solve for rough surface contact pressure in mixed
found in many mechanical components have been investigated by lubrication and Moes’ curve-fitting formula [19] (originally for
many researchers. Pioneer studies include those by Crook [4], Plint smooth surface full-film EHL) to predict the central film thickness
[5], Johnson and Cameron [6], and others. It has been found that the in rough surface EHL contacts. It is assumed that the boundary
measured friction in a lubricant film is usually much lower than that lubrication friction coefficient is a constant, determined experi-
predicted by a Newtonian fluid model. Therefore, a non-Newtonian mentally, and an isothermal Eyring fluid model is used to evaluate
model is certainly needed for friction analyses. The concept of the hydrodynamic friction due to lubricant shearing in the film. Lu
“limiting shear stress” was then established [5,6] based on experi- et al. [10] adopted the above method but the fluid model was
mental results. Further studies by Johnson and Tevaarwerk [7], Bair changed to the non-Newtonian viscous–elastic one by Bair and
and Winer [8], and others indicated that friction prediction should Winer [8] with a pressure-dependent limiting shear stress. Faraon
employ a Maxwell model to describe the non-Newtonian visco- and Schipper [16] also employed the same method reported in
elastic characteristics of a lubricant and considers lubricant shear Ref. [15] to investigate the effect of starvation on the Stribeck
due to both elastic and viscous behaviors under high-pressure and curve behaviors. Two Stribeck curves with lapped and polished
high-shear transient conditions. Figure 2 shows typical measured rough surfaces in a circular contact were calculated by Redlich
sliding friction curves in a circular contact under full-film EHL con- et al. [17] based on the assumptions that the rough surface is sta-
ditions (from Ref. [9]). Basically, as the sliding velocity/lubricant tionary in contact with a smooth moving surface, and the lubricant
shear rate in the film starts to increase from zero, the friction coeffi- obeys the isothermal Ree–Eyring fluid model. However, for some
cient increases linearly but only within a very narrow range; then it reasons, the predicted boundary lubrication friction in Ref. [17] is
may quickly reach a peak value. This is because the shear stress in even lower than that of mixed and full-film lubrication with the
the film could not rise beyond the limiting shear stress, which is a polished surface. Most recently, Masjedi and Khonsari [20]
property of the lubricant and is also a function of pressure and tem- improved the stochastic mixed EHL model in Ref. [15] to include
perature. After reaching its peak, the friction may gradually decrease the effects of temperature rise and possible elastic–plastic defor-
due to reduction of the limiting shear stress caused by temperature mation of asperities. Also, a more accurate free-volume model is
increase in the contact zone resulted from heat generation in the film employed and the limiting shear stress effect is considered for the
if the sliding velocity is further increased. Therefore, friction in a lubricants. In the meantime, Chang and Jeng [21] also conducted a
lubricated counterformal contact depends largely on the non- friction model development under mixed EHL condition. However,
Newtonian viscous–elastic property of the lubricant that is strongly no sufficient results were presented in Refs. [20,21] for a complete
influenced by pressure and temperature. Stribeck curve. A study by Wang et al. [22] conducted the mixed
Although friction characteristics in full-film EHL contacts have EHL analyses using separated lubrication and asperity contact mod-
been investigated extensively, generating a complete Stribeck els, and the results indicated that this separate treatment may yield
curve is still a challenging task that requires either experimental reasonable film thickness and pressure in a local average sense for
or numerical results in an extremely wide range of operating con- operating conditions corresponding to the film thickness (k) ratio no
ditions. Also, numerically calculating a complete Stribeck curve less than 1 and for surfaces with small roughness. The central film
requires a unified mixed lubrication model with robust algorithms thickness error could reach 50% or more if the k ratio smaller than 1
capable of handling the entire spectrum of lubrication status. In and the composite RMS roughness greater than 0.4 l.
fact, the majority of published Stribeck curves found in various In the last 10–15 years, fast advancing computer technologies
books and articles are only conceptual (similar to the one shown and updated numerical methods have fueled recent development
in Fig. 1) without real data from either experiments or numerical in the field of mixed lubrication research. One of the developed
simulations. Only a limited number of published studies with real new models is the unified deterministic mixed EHL model by
data are found in the literature, including those recently presented Zhu and Hu [23], Hu and Zhu [24], with the semisystem approach
in Refs. [9–17]. For example, the Stribeck curves for various presented by Ai [25]. With this approach, one can now use three-
journal bearings are given by Lu et al. [10], Wang et al. [11], dimensional (3D) digitized machined roughness as input data and
de Kraker et al. [12], and others. Note that in Ref. [10], numerical simulate the entire transition from the full-film and mixed EHL all
calculations were compared with experiment data and a good the way down to boundary lubrication and dry contact under
agreement was achieved; in Refs. [11] and [12], an average severe operating conditions. This unified model has been continu-
Reynolds equation was employed, and in Ref. [11], a thermal ously improved by Wang et al. [26], Liu et al. [27], Zhu [28], and
EHL analysis also conducted. As is well-known, in journal bear- others. Its model validation cases have been given in
ings and other conformal contact components, the pressure and Refs. [23,24,28–32]. This unified mixed EHL model and the

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corresponding numerical approach offer a chance to explore the sufficiently robust. In addition, when plotting rough surface pro-
entire transition in a wide range of operating conditions. Based on files usually the asperity height is greatly exaggerated for clarity,
this model, Wang et al. [29] conducted friction simulations for but in reality, the average roughness height, Ra, is typically in a
rough surface point contacts with four different rheological range of 0.02–0.8 l and the asperity wavelength/size often in the
models, and the speed range in Ref. [29] covered more than four order of 50–100 l or more for machined roughness commonly
orders of magnitude. They found that the four different rheologi- seen in practice. Therefore, the asperity slope is actually small,
cal models involved actually yielded similar friction results. How- usually not more than several degrees in most cases. This type of
ever, the thermal effect was still neglected in Ref. [29]. Actually, roughness is called the “Reynolds roughness” in the literature
with this unified mixed EHL model, the ranges of operating condi- that allows the usage of the Reynolds equation. Also, if possible
tions can be even more greatly extended. For instance, in recently lateral and reverse flows are considered, any local asperity
published papers [14,33], the analyzed cases were in a speed range contact will not violate flow continuity. Hence, the unified deter-
of nearly 11 orders of magnitude, from U* ¼ 0.9113  1020 up to ministic mixed lubrication model is fully justified and it has
U* ¼ 0.4557  109, and the corresponding film thickness ratio been employed and validated in many previous studies, such as
range from 0.0008 to 3.5 or so. Therefore, it may be a numerical Refs. [14,22–24,27–36].
tool to conduct an in-depth study on the frictional behavior of For a point contact EHL problem with two moving rough surfa-
lubricated concentrated contact interfaces and generate more com- ces, the local lubricant film thickness is time-dependent and can
plete Stribeck curves accordingly. be computed by
The present study employs the above-mentioned deterministic
mixed EHL model recently developed and enhanced [23,24,26,28]. x2 y2
Stribeck curves are plotted in a further extended wide range of speed hðx; y; tÞ ¼ ho ðtÞ þ þ þ Vðx; y; tÞ þ d1 ðx; y; tÞ þ d2 ðx; y; tÞ
2Rx 2Ry
based on the full numerical solutions of film thickness obtained with
various types of contact geometries using 3D machined rough surfa-
ces of different orientations. The non-Newtonian viscous–elastic
fluid model by Bair and Winer [8] is used for evaluation of friction Note that the first term on the right-hand side represents the nor-
in the lubricant film. Surface flash temperature is also analyzed dur- mal approach between the two bodies, and the second and third
ing the calculation of friction because of the mutual dependence terms are for the original macrocontact geometry. V(x, y, t) is the
between friction and interfacial temperature. Obtained results will surface elastic deformation, and d1(x, y, t) and d2(x, y, t) are 3D
be discussed for a better understanding of friction characteristics original roughness profiles for surfaces Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.
and the influences of operating conditions, contact geometry, and Since both surfaces are moving along the x-direction, d1 and d2,
surface roughness orientations on the Stribeck curve behaviors. are time-dependent, and can be given by

d1 ðx; y; tÞ ¼ s1 ðx  u1 t; yÞ
Basic Equations and Numerical Procedure d2 ðx; y; tÞ ¼ s2 ðx  u2 t; yÞ
The basic approach for the deterministic mixed EHL simulation
model and its improvements has been presented in previous where s1(x,y) and s2(x,y) are surface profiles, typically in the form
publications, such as Refs. [23,24,27,28]. Its details will not be of measured discretized roughness height data matrix. For line
repeated here but a brief summary is given in the following for clarity contact problems, even the macrocontact geometry can be consid-
and completeness. The present study focuses on the mixed EHL prob- ered as two-dimensional (2D), the entire problem still needs a 3D
lems in counterformal contacts, for which the Hertzian contact zone model because the roughness topography is usually 3D in nature.
is either an infinitely long narrow band (line contact) or an ellipse (el- Detailed description of 3D line contact EHL model can be found
liptical contact). Generally, two arbitrary rough surfaces are running in Ref. [34], in which Eq. (2) can be written as
through the EHL conjunction at any rolling and relative sliding veloc-
ities. The two rough surfaces can be directly digitized and then used x2
hðx; y; tÞ ¼ ho ðtÞ þ þ Vðx; y; tÞ þ d1 ðx; y; tÞ þ d2 ðx; y; tÞ (4)
as a part of the input data. The pressure (including both the 2Rx
“hydrodynamic” pressure and “contact” pressure) within the entire
domain is governed by the Reynolds equation expressed as follows: The surface elastic deformation due to pressure is computed
    through the following integral:
@ qh3 @p @ qh3 @p u1 þ u2 @ ðqhÞ @ ðqhÞ
þ ¼ þ ðð
@x 12g @x @y 12g @y 2 @x @t 2 pðn; 1Þ
Vðx; y; tÞ ¼ 0 qffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffidnd1 (5)
(1) pE X
ðx  nÞ2 þ ðy  1Þ2

Here, the lubricant can be either Newtonian or non-Newtonian (if

non-Newtonian, g should be the effective viscosity with respect to The lubricant viscosity is assumed to be dependent on pressure, and
a certain shear behavior of the lubricant used; readers may refer one of the commonly used viscosity equations is the exponential law
to Refs. [23,24] for more information). All the parameters are g ¼ go expðapÞ (6)
defined in the Nomenclature. The x-coordinate is chosen to coin-
cide with the rolling direction. A boundary condition of pressure Other viscosity laws can also be used here to readily replace Eq. (6)
p ¼ 0 at the edges of the solution domain, as well as a normal cav- when necessary. Detailed discussion on the effect of different vis-
itation condition, must be satisfied when solving this equation. cosity models is beyond the scope of the present paper. In fact, it
It is important to note that, in principle, we are using a unified has been found by Wang et al. [29] that different viscosity models
model to deal with both “lubrication” and “contact” simultane- may yield similar results for the predicted friction. The density of
ously in a mixed EHL system. In fact, dry contact is nothing but a lubricant is also a function of pressure, commonly calculated by
special case of lubricated contact under some extreme conditions,
such as ultra-low viscosity, ultra-low speed, and localized high  
0:6  109 p
pressure. In other words, dry contact can be theoretically consid- q ¼ qo 1þ (7)
1 þ 1:7  109 p
ered the same as lubricated contact under the condition of suffi-
ciently weak or negligible hydrodynamics. Therefore, one should
be able to use the lubrication model (i.e., the Reynolds equation) The applied load is balanced by the integral of the pressure
to solve dry contact problems as long as the numerical solver is over the entire solution domain, X, i.e.,

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wðtÞ ¼ pðx; y; tÞdxdy (8) steel commonly seen in engineering practice. If the fb is given, one
X can calculate the shear stress at the asperity contact locations

It is important to note that in the present study the distributions of s ¼ fb p (12)

mixed EHL film thickness and pressure are obtained through the
full numerical solution of the above equation system, Eqs. (1)–(8), The total friction can then be obtained through the integration
with the isothermal Newtonian fluid model, because the EHL film of shear stresses over the entire domain that includes both the
thickness is dominated by the entraining action in the inlet zone hydrodynamic and asperity contact areas. One may refer to
where the pressure and shear strain rate are still low so that the use Refs. [35–37] and some other papers for more detailed description
of an isothermal Newtonian model is justified and the effects of of the friction calculation. Note that this friction calculation
thermal action and non-Newtonian behavior are usually limited. approach has been validated with some ball-on-disk test data (see
That is why the isothermal Newtonian EHL solutions have shown Refs. [14] and [29], for example).
good agreement with available experimental results, and today, the Since the lubricant properties are influenced sensitively by the
majority of researchers are still using this type of models for evalu- temperature, and the temperature is directly affected by the heat
ating EHL film thickness and pressure. The full thermal solution generation due to friction, surface temperature and friction are in
with a non-Newtonian fluid model, on the other hand, may require fact mutually dependent. Assuming the bulk temperature of the
a significant increase in computational power, which is not neces- contacting bodies reaches a stable equilibrium condition after a
sary in many cases. However, the flash temperature increase and certain period of running time, the transient surface flash tempera-
sliding friction occur mainly in the contact zone where the pressure ture increase becomes more crucial in the friction calculation.
and shear strain rate are very high. Therefore, a non-Newtonian There are different ways available for evaluating the flash temper-
fluid model is needed, and the thermal effect should be considered ature under different conditions, as discussed in detail by Liu
when predicting frictional characteristics. Experimental results et al. [38], but we must choose a unified approach for the
have indicated that EHL friction is often much overestimated if a extremely wide range of operating conditions, otherwise the gen-
Newtonian fluid model is used (see Refs. [4–8], for example). That erated Stribeck curves may be discontinuous. In the present study,
is why in the present study we are following the common practice the calculation of flash temperature is based on the theory of a
to employ the isothermal Newtonian model for EHL film thickness moving heat source over a semi-infinite solid. Basically, when the
and pressure distributions but a thermal non-Newtonian model for surface speed is sufficiently high, the heat flow along the surface
flash temperature and friction in order to obtain reliable results with in the direction perpendicular to the velocity of heat source may
a reasonable computing time. be neglected. Also, the heat generated at the interface will be car-
The mixed lubrication friction is considered as the sum of ried away by the two moving solid bodies through conduction.
hydrodynamic friction in the areas of surface separation by the The convection by the lubricant flow is assumed to be insignifi-
lubricant films and boundary film friction at the locations of asper- cant. Based on these assumptions, the surface flash temperatures
ity contact. Its calculation method has been described in some pre- can be calculated by solving the following equations (refer to
vious papers such as Refs. [35–37], so its details will not be Refs. [37,38] for more detailed descriptions):
repeated here. Note that the shear stress in the lubricant film is
 0:5 ð f  
estimated in the hydrodynamic areas by using the non-Newtonian 1 kf qðnÞ
viscous-elastic fluid model by Bair and Winer [8] expressed as T1 ðfÞ ¼ Tb1 þ ½T2 ðnÞ  T1 ðnÞ þ
pq1 C1 u1 k1 x h 2
:   dn
: s sL s  (13)
c¼  ln 1  (9) ðf  nÞ0:5
G1 g sL

in which the limiting shear stress, sL, and the limiting shear elastic  0:5 ð f  
1 kf qðnÞ
modulus, G1, are functions of pressure and temperature, which T2 ðfÞ ¼ Tb2 þ ½T1 ðnÞ  T2 ðnÞ þ
can be estimated empirically. For a typical mineral oil, the follow- pq2 C2 u2 k2 x h 2
ing empirical formulae by Dyson can be employed; dn
ðf  nÞ0:5
G1 ðp; TÞ ¼  109
2:52 þ 0:024T (10)
sL ðp; TÞ ¼ 0:25G1 where q is the heat generated by either lubricant shear in the hydro-
dynamic areas, or interface friction in the asperity contact areas. It
Assuming the lubricant shear strain rate can be approximately can be estimated as q ffi s ju2  u1j, in which s is from either Eq.
calculated by (12) or the solution of Eq. (11). Note that the above equations, Eqs.
: (13) and (14), are recognized as Volterra’s integral equations of the
c ffi ju2  u1 j=h second kind. Since the surface temperatures and the heat generation
are mutually dependent, an iterative procedure is needed in order to
one can have
solve them for surface temperatures, T1 and T2. Note that this flash
  temperature model is satisfactory when the surface velocities are
u ds sL s ju2  u1 j
  ln 1   ¼0 (11) high. It may not be perfectly accurate if the surface velocities are
G1 dx g sL h very low. However, at low speeds, the heat generation is usually in-
significant and the corresponding flash temperature rise is very low
Then, the shear stress distribution in the film, s(x,y), can be anyway (see flash temperature calculation examples given below).
obtained by solving the above nonlinear equation at each node of Therefore, possible calculation errors at low speeds should not
the computational mesh with an iterative procedure, and, once have any significant influence on the basic trend of flash tempera-
again, the shear stress will not exceed sL. In other words, the shear ture variation. After all we have to choose a unified model for the
stress in the film is, in fact, no longer calculated based simply on flash temperature in the wide range of operating conditions.
the viscosity unless the shear strain rate is extremely low so that the The numerical solution techniques based on the semisystem
Newtonian model still holds. The coefficient of boundary friction, approach (see Ref. [25]) have been described previously in
fb, in the asperity contact regions is assumed to be a constant that Refs. [23,24,27,28] and some other publications. The unified
can be experimentally measured. Generally fb varies often in a nar- lubrication-contact approach employs the same equation system
row range, e.g., 0.07–0.15, for mineral oil lubricated steel against consistently in both the hydrodynamic and contact regions. In

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Fig. 3 Three types of machined rough surfaces used (from Ref. [33])

accuracy [28]. For line contact problems with 3D surface rough-

ness, the mixed FFT approach is employed, which is described in
Refs. [34,40]. When solving mixed EHL problems with machined
roughness, the handling of discretization meshes and the resulting
numerical accuracy become crucial. The appropriate algorithm
has been discussed in detail in a recent paper by Zhu et al. [41].

Input Data for Analyzed Cases

Because the primary objective of this paper is to numerically
simulate the entire transition from the full-film and mixed EHL
all the way down to boundary lubrication, and to investigate the
frictional behaviors in the form of Stribeck curve, a series of cases
have been chosen with different types of surface roughness orienta-
tions and different contact ellipticity ratios in a wide range of
Fig. 4 Four types of contact geometry analyzed (from Ref. [33]).
speed, but otherwise under the same operating conditions. Three
The greater the contact ellipticity, the less the lateral flows, and types of machined rough surfaces used in the present study are
the stronger the entraining action in the direction of motion. illustrated in Fig. 3, representing the major roughness orientation
patterns relative to the rolling direction: longitudinal, transverse,
order to accelerate the surface deformation calculation, which is a and isotropic. It can be seen that the topography of a turned surface
major part of the total computation process, the discrete convolu- consists of either longitudinal or transverse ridges with a rather
tion and fast Fourier transform method developed by Liu et al. consistent wavelength, while the shaved surfaces have more ran-
[39] is incorporated into the EHL model mentioned above by dom asperities without any apparent direction. In each case, two
Wang et al. [26], and the computation using this set of numerical rough surfaces of the same type and the same RMS roughness are
procedure has been proven to be very fast. The progressive mesh running through the EHL zone, having their original composite
densification method is employed to ensure a reasonable and RMS roughness fixed to r ¼ 600 nm. Four different types of con-
efficient mesh-converged solution with satisfactory numerical tact geometry are selected with the ellipticity parameters of k ¼ 0.5,

Fig. 5 A set of deterministic solutions at k 5 2 Showing the entire transition U *5 0.9113 3 10220  0.4557 3 1026,
W *5 0.5478 3 1024, G *5 2829.7, Ph 5 2.277 GPa, S 5 20%, r 5 600 nm, and k 5 0.00086  75.16

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Table 1 Materials properties used

Effective Young’s modulus E0 226.37 GPa Lubricant conductivity kf 0.145 W/(m  K)

Ambient viscosity go 0.0262 Pa  s Solid conductivities k1, k2 46.0 W/(m  K)
Pressure–viscosity exponent a 12.5 GPa1 Solid specific heats C1, C2 0.46 Nm/(g  K)
Solid densities q1,q2 7.865 g/cm3 Composite roughness r 600 nm

1.0, 2.0, and 1 (line contact), respectively, as shown in Fig. 4. Cor- be constant, fb ¼ 0.10. In order to simulate the entire transition
responding effective radii of curvature are Rx ¼ 36.13 mm and and explore the possible Stribeck curve behaviors to the fullest
Ry ¼ 12.70 mm for k ¼ 0.5, Rx ¼ Ry ¼ 12.70 mm for k ¼ 1.0, extent, the rolling velocity varied from 0.000001 mm/s continu-
Rx ¼ 12.70 mm and Ry ¼ 36.13 mm for k ¼ 2, and Rx ¼ 12.70 mm ously up to U ¼ 50,000 m/s (which already exceeds those of usual
and Ry ¼ 1 for the line contact. The material properties used are machine elements in engineering reality), covering nearly 14
listed in Table 1. The applied load is adjusted to have a consistent orders of magnitude. However, the slide-to-roll ratio remains con-
maximum Hertzian pressure of 2.277 GPa for all the cases with the stant, which is S ¼ 20%. This means that the higher the rolling
different contact ellipticity ratios. speed, the higher the relative sliding. The solution domain for
Note that when solving the Reynolds equation for film thick- the point contact cases is defined as 1.9  x/a  1.1 and
ness and pressure distributions the lubricant is assumed to be 1.5  y/b  1.5. Similarly, the domain for the line contact cases
Newtonian and the solution of the Reynolds equation is isother- is set to 1.9  x/a  1.1 and 1.5  y/a  1.5. The discretization
mal. The boundary lubrication friction coefficient is assumed to grid is 257  257 equally spaced, corresponding to a

Fig. 6 Flash temperature results for surface 1 corresponding to the solutions in Fig.5 U* 5 0.9113 3 10220  0.4557 3 1026,
W* 5 0.5478 3 1024, G* 5 2829.7, Ph 5 2.277 GPa, S 5 20%, r 5 600 nm, and k 5 0.0008675.16. (a) Contour maps of flash temper-
ature increase on surface 1 and (b) maximum flash temperature rise as a function of speed.

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Fig. 7 Summarized results for the cases of k 5 2 with transverse roughness U *5 0.9113 3 10220  0.4557 3 1026,
W *5 0.5478 3 1024, G *5 2829.7, Ph 5 2.277 GPa, S 5 20%, r 5 600 nm, and k 5 0.00086  75.16

dimensionless mesh size of Dx/a ¼ Dy/b ¼ 0.0117 (or Dx/a ¼ Dy/ number of time steps for each case (specifically, 500 steps in the
a ¼ 0.0117 for line contacts), which is sufficiently small for the present study). A set of numerical solutions for the contact ellip-
present study. The time step length is chosen to be DT ¼ Dt U/ ticity of k ¼ 2 with the transverse roughness are given in Fig. 5 as
a ¼ 0.0053. The solution convergence criterion is set to be: examples, visually demonstrating the predicted entire transition of
ep ¼ RjPnew old new
i;j  Pi;j j= RPi;j < 0:00005  0:0005 for rough sur- lubrication status when the speed parameter U* varies from
face solutions and eP < 0.000005 for smooth surface solutions. 0.9113  1020 up to 0.4557  106. As a result, the k ratio spans
a wide range from 0.00086 up to 75.16. Note that the light-yellow
colored areas in the contact zone indicate asperity contacts, where
Results and Discussions the film thickness, or gap, falls below 0.50 nm. For comparison
Globally stabilized transient full numerical solutions are purpose, the corresponding smooth surface EHL solution at
obtained from the present mixed EHL model after running a large U ¼ 50 m/s is also given on the right side of Fig. 5. It is obvious

Fig. 8 Contact load ratio and friction coefficient as functions of film thickness ratio (k) for various types of contact geometry
(transverse roughness)

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Fig. 9 Friction coefficient as functions of speed for various types of contact geometry and roughness orientation

that as speed increases the lubrication mode gradually changes seen that friction could be much higher and more leveled at high
from the boundary and mixed to the full-film EHL. Each lubrica- speeds if the flash temperature is not considered. Basically, the
tion mode corresponds to a certain k ratio range, and this has Stribeck curve looks different from that for conformal contacts
recently been discussed in detail in Ref. [14]. The flash tempera- found in journal bearings and some other components, in which
ture results for the same set of cases are given in Fig. 6, showing the pressure and shear strain rate are so low that the lubricant can
that significant surface temperature rise occurs only at moderate still be considered as a Newtonian fluid with a constant viscosity
and high speeds. without considering the limiting shear stress. Here, the contact
The variations of film thickness (k) ratio, contact load ratio and load ratio Wc 0.85 is used as the criterion for boundary lubrica-
friction coefficient as functions of the rolling speed are plotted on tion, while Wc ¼ 0 is considered to be that for full-film lubrication.
the left in Fig. 7, clearly showing the lubrication status change as Basically, obtained Stribeck curves shown in Fig. 7 demonstrate
the speed increases. The same set of contact load ratio and friction typical characteristics described above.
results are replotted on the right side of the figure as functions All the simulation results of friction and contact load ratio
of k ratio. This set of results is typical, demonstrating basic variations vs. film thickness (k) ratio for the four types of contact
characteristics of the lubrication transition and frictional behavior geometry with transverse roughness have been summarized in
over the extremely wide ranges of operating speed and k ratio. Fig. 8. First, the line contact cases are analyzed by using the 3D
Obtained solutions for other contact types and roughness orienta- mixed EHL model recently developed by Ren et al. [34] in order
tions are similar in nature, which will be discussed later. to take into account the effect of 3D roughness commonly found
Note that the analyzed sample cases have covered the entire in engineering applications. This figure reveals that all the Stri-
transition of lubrication condition, and, in fact, the operating beck curves for different types of contact geometry demonstrate
speed has been greatly extended in order to investigate the trend similar characteristics described previously. The friction continu-
of Stribeck curve for the full spectrum of lubrication condition, ously deceases as the speed or film thickness increases until
especially at high speeds. It is observed that as the speed increases extremely high speeds reached. The influence of contact ellipticity
the friction coefficient continuously decreases even in the full- appears to be quite limited.
film EHL regime until the extremely high speeds are reached. In order to investigate the effect of surface roughness
This is mainly because the lubricant limiting shear stress is a orientation on the friction, different surfaces are employed in the
function of temperature in lubricated concentrated contacts (as numerical analyses under otherwise the same conditions. All the
indicated by Eq. (10)), which is significantly reduced when the obtained Stribeck curves have been summarized in Figs. 9 and 10.
surface flash temperature rises at high speeds. Note that in the left Apparently, surface roughness orientation does not seem to have a
graph of Fig. 7, the dashed line is for the friction coefficient significant influence on the frictional behaviors, especially in the
obtained from the same model but without considering the effect boundary and full-film lubrication regimes. Visible but limited
of flash temperature rise on the limiting shear stress. It can be influence can be observed in the mixed lubrication regime where

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Fig. 10 Friction coefficient as functions of film thickness ratio (k) for various types of contact geometry and roughness

the roughness orientation has more significant effect on the aver- mainly because in concentrated contacts, where the pres-
age film thickness, as discussed in detail in Ref. [33]. sure and shear strain rate are usually much higher, the lubri-
cant demonstrates non-Newtonian behaviors and its
Conclusions limiting shear stress may continuously decrease due to the
significant surface flash temperature rise as the speed
A systematic numerical investigation of the friction character- increases.
istics in lubricated concentrated contacts is conducted using the (3) Contact ellipticity and surface orientation have limited
unified deterministic mixed EHL modeling system recently influences on the frictional behaviors, especially in the full-
developed. Digitized 3D machined rough surfaces are adopted, film and boundary lubrication regimes.
representing three types of major roughness orientations: longi-
tudinal, transverse, and isotropic. Four types of contact geome-
try, including the line contact and the point contacts of three Acknowledgment
different ellipticity ratios, k ¼ 2, 1, and 1/2, are analyzed at the The present study was partially supported by NSFC (National
same maximum Hertzian pressure, and the rolling speed range is Science Foundation of China) Project 50735008 and 51175521.
greatly extended in order to study the frictional behavior during The supports from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at
the entire transition from the boundary, mixed, up to the full- Sichuan University, China, and State Key Laboratory of Mechani-
film EHL. The corresponding k ratio spans a wide range from cal Transmission at Chongqing University (0301002109162),
75 to 90 or so down to about 0.0008. Based on the obtained nu- China, and the Center for Surface Engineering and Tribology at
merical simulation results, the following conclusions can be Northwestern University, are also acknowledged.
(1) The deterministic mixed EHL model can be used to evaluate
the interfacial friction characteristics for various types of rough Nomenclature
surface in concentrated contacts and generate complete Stribeck a ¼ semi-axis of Hertzian contact ellipse in rolling direction,
curves in an extremely wide range of operating conditions. or radius of Hertzian contact circle, or half-width of
(2) The friction coefficient continuously decreases as the speed Hertzian zone for a line contact
and film thickness increase even in the full-film regime b ¼ semi-axis of Hertzian contact ellipse in the direction
until extremely high speeds are reached. This phenomenon perpendicular to rolling
may be different from that in conformal contacts found C1,C2 ¼ specific heats of body 1 and body 2, respectively
in journal bearings and some other components, in which E0 ¼ effective elastic modulus
friction may increase in the full-film lubrication regime due f, fb ¼ friction coefficient and boundary lubrication friction
to high shear strain rate (see Fig. 1). Such a difference is coefficient, respectively

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G* ¼ aE0 , dimensionless material parameter [14] Zhu, D., and Wang, Q., 2012, “On the k Ratio Range of Mixed Lubrication,”
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k ¼ b/a, Hertzian contact ellipticity in Mixed Lubrication Regime,” Tribological Research and Design for Engi-
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T1,T2 ¼ surface temperatures on body 1 and body 2, respectively Lubrication of Non-Conformable Contacts With Asperity Friction, Plastic
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U* ¼ goU/(E0 Rx), dimensionless speed parameter Lubrication Analyses by a Micro-Macro Approach and a Full-Scale Micro EHL
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W* ¼ w/(E0 R2x ) for point contact, or w/(E0 Rxle) for line contact, [23] Zhu, D., and Hu, Y. Z., 1999, “The Study of Transition from Full Film Elasto-
hydrodynamic to Mixed and Boundary Lubrication,” The Advanced Frontier of
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Wc ¼ contact load ratio (load supported by asperity contacts [24] Hu, Y. Z., and Zhu, D., 2000, “A Full Numerical Solution to the Mixed Lubri-
divided by total load) cation in Point Contacts,” ASME J. Tribol., 122(1), pp. 1–9.
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k ¼ ha/r, film thickness ratio, or k ratio, or specific film ential Scheme and Mesh Density on EHL Film Thickness in Point Contacts,”
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q,qo ¼ density and density under ambient condition, [28] Zhu, D., 2007, “On Some Aspects in Numerical Solution of Thin-Film and
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r ¼ (R2q1 þ R2q2 )0.5, composite RMS roughness Rough Surfaces in Point Contacts: From EHL to Boundary Lubrication,”
ASME J. Tribol., 129(3), pp. 495–501.
[30] Liu, Y. C., Wang, Q., Zhu, D., Wang, W., and Hu, Y., 2009 “Effects of Differ-
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