In the present paper, the algorithm proposed by Giacopini et. al. [1], based on a mass-conserving formulation of the Reynolds equation using the concept of complementarity is suitably extended to include the effects of compressibility, piezoviscosity and shear-thinning on the lubricant properties. This improved algorithm is employed to analyse the performance of the lubricated small end and big end bearings of a connecting rod of a high performance motorbike engine.

The application of the algorithm proposed to both the small end and the big end of a con-rod is challenging because of the different causes that sustain the hydrodynamic lubrication in the two cases. In the con-rod big end, the fluid film is mainly generated by the relative high speed rotation between the rod and the crankshaft. The relative speed between the two races forms a wedge of fluid that assures appropriate lubrication and avoids undesired direct contacts. On the contrary, at the con-rod small end the relative rotational speed is low and a complete rotation between the mating surfaces does not occurs since the con-rod only oscillates around its vertical axis. Thus, at every revolution of the crankshaft, there are two different moments in which the relative rotational speed between the con-rod and the piston pin is null. Therefore, the dominant effect in the lubrication is the squeeze caused by the high loads transmitted through the piston pin. In particular both combustion forces and inertial forces contribute to the squeeze effect.

This work shows how the formulation developed by the authors is capable of predicting the performance of journal bearings in the unsteady regime, where cavitation and reformation occur several times. Moreover, the effects of the pressure and the shear rate on the density and on the viscosity of the lubricant are taken into account.

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