Contact Force Measurement in an Operational Thrust Bearing using PVDF Film at the Blade and Pad Passing Frequencies

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A major contributor to longitudinal vibration in marine propulsion systems is propeller induced excitation. This constitutes a key source of underwater acoustical radiation through excitation of the hull. Understanding this hydrodynamic force at the interface of the thrust bearing is important in order to develop an accurate vibrational model of the propulsion system and in determining potential control mechanisms. In order to investigate the thrust force during operation of a propulsion system, Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) was embedded into the stationery collar inside a custom thrust bearing in a scaled model of a typical propulsion system. The number of blades of the propeller and its rotational speed were altered to obtain an understanding of the characteristic vibrations of the shaft propulsion system. The rig comprised of the propeller, shaft, journal bearings and a thrust bearing. A two and three blade propeller and a four, five and six pad bearing were tested. A strain gauge and accelerometer were used to infer the propeller force and enable comparison with the PVDF signals. As a result of the asymmetrical flow around the propeller, the blade passing frequencies (BPF) are clearly observed. This frequency contribution was present at all speeds tested. The PVDF signal also showed significant pad passing frequency (PPF) and BPF and modulation of both.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3956
JournalSensors (Basel, Switzerland)
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2018


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