Research Papers

Thermal Modeling of a Railroad Tapered-Roller Bearing Using Finite Element Analysis

[+] Author and Article Information
Constantine M. Tarawneh1

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  The University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX 78539-2999tarawneh@utpa.edu

Arturo A. Fuentes, Javier A. Kypuros, Lariza A. Navarro, Andrei G. Vaipan

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  The University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX 78539-2999

Brent M. Wilson

Amsted Industries Incorporated, 1700 Walnut Street, Granite City, IL 62040


Corresponding author.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 4(3), 031002 (Jul 12, 2012) (11 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4006273 History: Received May 03, 2011; Revised January 21, 2012; Published July 12, 2012; Online July 12, 2012

In the railroad industry, distressed bearings in service are primarily identified using wayside hot-box detectors (HBDs). Current technology has expanded the role of these detectors to monitor bearings that appear to “warm trend” relative to the average temperatures of the remainder of bearings on the train. Several bearings set-out for trending and classified as nonverified, meaning no discernible damage, revealed that a common feature was discoloration of rollers within a cone (inner race) assembly. Subsequent laboratory experiments were performed to determine a minimum temperature and environment necessary to reproduce these discolorations and concluded that the discoloration is most likely due to roller temperatures greater than 232 °C (450 °F) for periods of at least 4 h. The latter finding sparked several discussions and speculations in the railroad industry as to whether it is possible to have rollers reaching such elevated temperatures without heating the bearing cup (outer race) to a temperature significant enough to trigger the HBDs. With this motivation, and based on previous experimental and analytical work, a thermal finite element analysis (FEA) of a railroad bearing pressed onto an axle was conducted using ALGOR 20.3™. The finite element (FE) model was used to simulate different heating scenarios with the purpose of obtaining the temperatures of internal components of the bearing assembly, as well as the heat generation rates and the bearing cup surface temperature. The results showed that, even though some rollers can reach unsafe operating temperatures, the bearing cup surface temperature does not exhibit levels that would trigger HBD alarms.

Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Detailed component view of a typical railroad tapered-roller bearing

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Figure 2

Mesh results for the solid model of the bearing-axle assembly that was used to perform the finite element analysis in this study

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Figure 3

Solid model of the bearing-axle assembly showing how the boundary conditions (BCs) were applied for the FE analyses conducted for this study. Note: (1) heat flux was applied to the circumferential surface of the rollers only, (2) bearing overall heat transfer coefficient was applied to the bearing external surfaces (i.e., bearing cup external surface and side walls, and bearing cone side walls), and (3) axle heat transfer coefficient and radiation were applied to all exposed surfaces of the axle.

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Figure 4

A picture of the dynamic bearing tester used to conduct the laboratory experiments

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Figure 5

Thermal FE analysis results for normal operation conditions. Axle was suppressed from the visual results to provide a better temperature visualization of the bearing surface (heating scenario 1 in Table 2).

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Figure 6

Thermal FE analysis results for six welded rollers in one cone assembly (heating scenario 3 in Table 2)

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Figure 7

Thermal FE analysis results for twisted cage bar (heating scenario 4 in Table 2)

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Figure 8

Thermal FE analysis results for two hot rollers (one on each cone assembly) (heating scenario 7 in Table 2)

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Figure 9

Thermal FE analysis results for three consecutive hot rollers (heating scenario 8 in Table 2)

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Figure 10

Thermal FE analysis results for all rollers heated equally to produce a 130.5 °C average cup temperature (heating scenario 13 in Table 2)




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