The conventional internal combustion engines driven by crankshafts and connecting rod mechanisms are restrained by combustion, thermal and mechanical inefficiencies. The Oscillating Free Piston Linear Engine Alternator (OFPLEA) produces electric power with no need to modify the reciprocating motion to rotary motion. In the most common geometry it consists of a linear alternator driven cyclically by one or two internal combustion engines. With the elimination of crankshaft mechanism linkages, the free piston engine offers potential benefits over crankshaft engines in terms of total mechanical losses. A significant proportion of 5% to 12% of total fuel energy in conventional engines is consumed to overcome the frictional losses. This research investigation addresses an analytical and numerical model to simulate the tribological performance of piston rings in an OFPLEA engine. The results are then compared with results from an equivalent conventional crankshaft driven engine. This axisymmetric, mixed lubrication tribological model is developed on the hydrodynamic process defined by Patir and Cheng’s modified Reynolds equation and an asperity contact process as defined by Greenwood and Tripp’s rough surface dry contact model. The asperity contact pressure distribution, hydrodynamic pressure distribution, lubricant oil film thickness, frictional force and frictional power losses are calculated using an explicit finite difference approach. In the absence of spring-dominated OFPLEA system, dissimilarity in the piston motion profile for compression and power stroke exhibited two different oil film thickness peaks. Whereas a similar oil film thickness peaks are observed for conventional engine due to the controlled and stable operation maintained by crankshaft mechanism. The simulation results state that the frictional losses due to piston ring - cylinder liner contact are found to be lower for a free piston engine than for those of a corresponding crankshaft engine. The simulated piston ring frictional power losses are found to be 342.8 W for the OFPLEA system and 382.6 W for the crankshaft engine. Further, an overall system efficiency improvement of 0.6 % is observed for an OFPLEA engine due to these reduced frictional losses from piston rings.

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