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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Experimental and theoretical studies of the wear of heat exchanger tubes Magel, Eric E.


A study of heat exchanger tube wear has been completed. A simple theoretical model of elastic/plastic deformation has been developed and used in a new model of wear. Experimental results were used to corroborate the theoretical developments. A literature survey of wear mechanisms and wear models was conducted to provide the author with an opportunity to familiarize himself with current knowledge of the field of tribology. Experiments were conducted to simulate a heat exchanger tube/support wear system. For the first series of experiments, a simple impacting rig was used, while a second set was conducted using a much more accurate rig and facilities of the National Research Council of Canada's Tribology Laboratory. Modifications to the NRC rig were designed by the author to incorporate the specific specimen geometries. The main operating parameters of the test apparatus were varied in an effort to determine their effect on wear rates. Force and displacement data were collected and the normal and shear forces calculated, as was the work input. Comparison between the frictional work input and the measured wear showed that there was an approximately linear correlation between work and wear rates. Inspection of the surfaces of the worn specimens showed that a number of wear mechanisms operate in this wear system but that wear is primarily due to delamination and shear fracture. Also, it was noticed that the micro-surface geometry of the worn specimens has a consistent texture, regardless of magnitude and angle of impact between the tube and ring. A model of plastic contact deformation was developed to allow calculation of the contact parameters between two surfaces, given that the softer surface is repeatedly plastically deformed. This model says that repeated stress cycles lead to the introduction of residual stresses, which combined with work hardening of the material, lead the softer material to an elastic shakedown state. Once the typical asperity contact state is known, the typical stress distribution is calculated using Hertzian line contact stress formulae. A series of computer programs were developed to calculate the stress distribution beneath a sliding contact. The depth of maximum shear stress can then be found. This depth corresponds to the expected wear particle thickness. A wear sheet was assumed to form when the frictional work input is equal to the energy required to cause failure in ductile shear. A wear equation was then developed to predict the wear rate between a heat exchanger tube and its support. The final wear model has seen limited comparison with experimental results. The theoretical work input was found to be about 25% of the correlated bulk work. This indicates that the geometry assumptions of the model are quite reasonable. Unfortunately, the predicted wear rate was found to exceed the measured values by a factor of about 5000. If this empirical value is factored into the the wear model, then the predicted results are found to correspond well with the experimental values.

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