free water droplet, point contact, starved condition, film thickness


Water is one of the most significant causes of lubrication failure. There is little research on the direct observation of the impact of water on lubrication properties. In this study, the influence of water on oil replenishment under different elastohydrodynamic (EHD) lubricating conditions is evaluated using optical interferometry and infrared microscopy, and a dimensionless criterion when water influences the film thickness is proposed. Evidence shows that the scour displacing effect and emulsification of water/oil are the main reasons for the reduction in film thickness. Once a water droplet enters an oil reservoir around the critical contact zone, it hardly moves away. This aggravates starvation, reduces the center film thickness of the contact, and leads to lubrication failure of the mechanical components.

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