Research Work for Clarifying the Mechanism of White Structure Flaking and Extending the Life of Bearings 2005-01-1868
Bearings used in electrical engine-driven accessories, such as alternators and air conditioner (A/C) compressor pulleys, generate flaking related to non-metallic inclusions of unusual microstructure (white structure flaking), which occurs at one-tenth to one-twentieth of the calculated bearing life. In this paper, we will describe our investigation of the mechanism of white structure flaking, and report on how we achieved extended service life of engine-driven accessory bearings by implementing an evaluation of white structure flaking based on the discovered mechanism. We verified that the tribochemical reaction of grease, and statistic electricity generated by friction between the drive belt and pulley were the main culprits of white structure flaking. White structure flaking was further augmented by hydrogen invading the bearing steel, which further impaired bearing life.