Controllable Lubrication for Main Engine Bearings Using Mechanical and Piezoelectric Actuators

Edgar Estupinan, Ilmar Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Although mechatronic systems are nowadays implemented in a large number of systems in vehicles, active lubrication systems are still incipient in industrial applications. This study is an attempt to extend the active lubrication concept to combustion engines and gives a theoretical contribution to this field. One refers to active lubrication when conventional hydrodynamic lubrication is combined with dynamically modified hydrostatic lubrication. In this study, two different schemes for the oil injection system in actively lubricated main engine bearings are presented. The use of active lubrication in journal bearings helps to enhance the hydrodynamic fluid film by increasing the fluid film thickness and consequently reducing viscous friction losses and vibrations. In this study, the hydrostatic lubrication is modified by injecting oil at controllable pressures through orifices circumferentially located around the bearing surface. The main equations that govern the dynamics of the injection for a piezo-actuated oil injector and a mechanical-actuated oil injector are presented. It is shown how the dynamics of the oil injection system is coupled to the dynamics of the bearing fluid film through equations. The global system is numerically solved using as a case study a single-cylinder combustion engine, where the conventional lubrication of the main bearing is modified by applying radial oil injection using piezo-actuated injection. The performance of such a hybrid bearing is compared to an equivalent conventional lubricated bearing in terms of the maximum fluid film pressures, minimum fluid film thicknesses, and reduction of viscous friction losses.
Original languageEnglish
JournalI E E E - A S M E Transactions on Mechatronics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)279-287
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Active lubrication
  • Piezoelectric actuator
  • Mechatronic system
  • Combustion engines

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