The oil film pressure is one of the essential functional parameters in journal bearings. Until now, the oil film pressure has been estimated by theoretical calculations, since the measurement of oil film pressure has been a demanding or even unfeasible task in journal bearings, especially in bearings carrying dynamic loads. In this study a new approach has been developed for experimental determination of the oil film pressure. The sensor design utilizes the optical fibre technique and the sensor is integrated in the sliding surface of the bearing thus providing the possibility to measure the actual oil film pressure under load. The finite element method (FEM) calculations have been used for optimizing the design of the sensor and for ensuring the appropriate mechanical performance of the sensor design. The optical sensor was integrated in a hydrodynamic journal bearing made of bronze. A versatile bearing test rig was used for testing the journal bearing with integrated optical sensor. The tests were carried out with both static and dynamic loading. The oil film pressure was measured with different loads and speeds and the data was compared with simulated one. The results showed that the optical sensor was capable to measure the oil film pressure in journal bearing at real operating conditions and the sensitivity of the sensor was good enough to verify the speed and load effects on pressure. According to this work, it is possible to increase the knowledge of true operating conditions of journal bearings by using the optical sensor for oil film pressure measurement. The knowledge can be utilized in the development work of safer and more efficient machines and engines with journal bearings carrying high and dynamic loads. The optical sensor can be used also in other applications for smart control of pressure.

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