Metal-based microchannel heat exchangers (MHEs) may offer a solution to thermal management required in a unlubricated bearing with ceramic or coated rolling elements. In this paper, we report results of tribological testing on steel coupons cooled by Cu-based MHEs. Low-profile Cu-based MHEs were fabricated and bonded to steel coupons, whose front faces were made to contact a crowned rotating steel ring, with and without oil lubrication. A series of tribological tests were conducted under different conditions with and without cooling. The tests collectively show that low-profile Cu-based MHEs placed in proximity of a tribological contact can be effective in removing heat generated at the contact interface, decrease the contact interfacial friction, and mitigate the amount of interfacial wear in sliding contacts, with and without oil lubrication. The present results suggest that cooling of tribological contact zones by embedding MHEs in proximity can be beneficial to tribological performance and deserves further investigations for tribological contact applications.

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