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Evaluation of an ultrasonic method for measurement of oil film thickness in a hydraulic motor piston ring

By P. Harper, R.S. Dwyer-Joyce, U. Sjodin and U. Olofsson

Abstract

The efficiency of a hydraulic motor depends on the lubrication performance of the piston ring. If the film is too thin then wear occurs quickly, if it is too thick then oil is lost into the cylinder and efficiency is reduced. In this paper a technique for oil film measurement based on ultrasonic reflection is investigated. This has the potential to be used non-invasively on real components. An ultrasonic pulse will reflect from a thin film interposed between two solids. The proportion of the pulse that is reflected depends on the stiffness of the intermediate layer. If the acoustic properties of the film material are known, then the stiffness can readily be used to determine the film thickness. This principle has been employed for the piston ring lubrication case. A piston/cylinder test bench has been used to evaluate the ultrasonic method. A focusing piezo-electric transducer is mounted outside the cylinder and ultrasonic pulses reflected back from the inner bore. The variation of these pulses as the piston ring passes underneath is investigated and used to determine oil film thickness. Films in the range 0.7 to 1.3 μm were measured; the thickness did not depend strongly on either ring speed or sealed pressure. Several practical aspects were investigated such as, attenuation in the cylinder material, response time, and transducer resolution. Whilst this study demonstrated that film thickness measurement is feasible, there are a number of practical considerations that require further work, principally the focusing and coupling of the ultrasonic transducer and the response time

Publisher: Elsevier Science B.V.
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:9182

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