Alloy Design of WEC-resistant Bearing Steels using a Customized Rolling Contact Fatigue Test Rig
The aim of the group’s main project is to elucidate the mechanism behind white etching crack (WEC) formation in bearing applications and to create materials that are resistant to this failure mechanism. The most prominent example for WEC failure are gear bearings of wind turbines. Our rolling contact fatigue (RCF) test rig was custom built to assess the propensity to WEC failure in different materials under well-defined laboratory conditions. This experimental setup and the sample geometry allow to investigate many materials including those not available as commercial bearings. Applying and monitoring electrical currents which were shown to play a role in the formation of WECs is possible. The setup furthermore enables testing under reproducible lubrication conditions and optionally also under a controlled atmosphere. As 100Cr6 bearing steel is the most widely used it serves as reference material in order to evaluate the performance of other high strength steels and model alloys.