Lubricating grease shear flow and boundary layers in a concentric cylinder configuration

J.X. Li, L.G. Westerberg, E. Höglund, Pieter Martin Lugt, P. Baart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Grease is extensively used to lubricate various machine elements such as rolling bearings, seals, and gears. Understanding the flow dynamics of grease is relevant for the prediction of grease distribution for optimum lubrication and for the migration of wear and contaminant particles. In this study, grease flow is visualized using microparticle image velocimetry (μPIV). The experimental setup includes a concentric cylinder configuration with a rotating shaft to simulate the grease flow in a double restriction seal geometry with two different grease pocket sizes. It is shown that the grease is partially yielded in the large grease pocket geometry and fully yielded in the small grease pocket. For the small grease pocket, it is shown that three distinct grease flow layers are present: a high shear rate region close to the stationary wall, a bulk flow layer, and a high shear rate boundary region near the rotating shaft. The grease shear thinning behavior and its wall slip effects have been identified. The μPIV experimental results have been compared with a numerical model for both the large and small gap size. It is shown that the flow is close to one-dimensional in the center of the small pocket. A one-dimensional analytical model based on the Herschel-Bulkley rheology model has been developed, showing good agreement with the measured velocity profiles in the small grease pocket. Furthermore, wall slip effects and shear banding are observed, where the latter imply that using the assumption of uniform shear in conventional concentric cylinder rheometers may result in erroneous rheological results
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1106-1115
JournalTribology transactions
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • IR-95842
  • METIS-310039


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