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SwRI® launching consortium to develop new dynamic bearing test rig

For immediate release

San Antonio — Sept. 15, 2014 — Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) has announced the formation of a consortium for joint research into new technologies to evaluate engine bearings for internal combustion engines.

The objective of the Dynamic Bearing Rig Consortium is to design, demonstrate and validate a dynamically loaded bearing test rig that can replicate the variable loads critical to how bearings perform in an operating engine under transient and steady-state conditions.

Simple bearing test rigs are widely used by bearing manufacturers, primarily to evaluate material properties. “They can be quite effective for comparing the load-carrying capability, scuff resistance and several other variables between two bearings,” said Kevin Hoag, a staff engineer in SwRI’s Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division. “However, simulating the actual operating conditions inside an internal combustion engine is far more difficult.”

Those evaluations currently require an engine test cell, which means high costs, limited instrumentation capabilities and a complex operating environment in which oil degradation can occur from many sources, making it difficult to isolate a particular variable for study.

SwRI engineers, using internal research funding, have already completed preliminary design work and concept evaluation on a dynamic bearing test rig that allows the operator to specify and control the load and engine speed-versus-time (crank angle) to which the bearings are subjected. Under the aegis of the new consortium, researchers will construct a test rig based on that initial design, demonstrate its operation and ability to meet measured parameters that mirror engine operating conditions, and further develop it into a useful tool for designing and testing engine bearings as well as lubricants.

Membership in the consortium means that manufacturers and suppliers of engines, bearings and lubricants can share pre-competitive research results without having to shoulder the full price for developing a new-generation bearing test rig.

A kickoff meeting for the consortium is scheduled Sept. 24 at SwRI’s headquarters in San Antonio. Membership is $49,900 per year for the multi-year consortium. For more information contact Hoag at (210) 522-2637.

For more information, contact Deb Schmid, (210) 522-2254, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510