Lubrication of gearboxes: CFD analysis of a cycloidal gear set
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In recent years, the increasing demand for more and more compact and efficient solutions has highlighted the need to have appropriate tools in order to optimize the internal design, to avoid thermal problems, ensuring proper lubrication and to increase the reliability of the systems. Typical high power density gearbox designs are based on planetary, harmonic and cycloidal architectures. Although many analytical and numerical models are already available for the prediction of the power losses related to gear meshing (sliding), bearings and seals, literature is lacking in terms of hydraulic power loss models (deep lubrication, churning, windage and squeezing). Some numerical multiphase CFD and experimental studies on parallel axis and planetary gear sets have been already performed by the authors in previous research. The aim of this paper is to extend the applicability of the previously developed numerical techniques to cycloidal architectures, taking into account the typical lubricants used for these type of drives. With respect to the load independent power losses (related to the interaction of the mechanical component and the surrounding lubricant), the cycloidal gear set has been numerically simulated with an especially developed CFD code implemented in the OpenFOAM® environment. A specific mesh handling technique allows us to manage the topological changes of the domain ensuring the numerical stability of the simulation and the correct calculation of the complex multiphase flows that take place in gearboxes. The results have been compared with those already available for other gear architectures with similar performances (dimensions, reduction ratios and loads).