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Contact Force Measurement in an Operational Thrust Bearing using PVDF Film at the Blade and Pad Passing Frequencies

School of Engineering, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Sensors 2018, 18(11), 3956;
Received: 3 October 2018 / Revised: 1 November 2018 / Accepted: 10 November 2018 / Published: 15 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances of Piezoelectric Transducers and Applications)
PDF [30714 KB, uploaded 15 November 2018]


A major contributor to longitudinal vibration in marine propulsion systems is propeller induced excitation. This constitutes a key source of underwater acoustical radiation through excitation of the hull. Understanding this hydrodynamic force at the interface of the thrust bearing is important in order to develop an accurate vibrational model of the propulsion system and in determining potential control mechanisms. In order to investigate the thrust force during operation of a propulsion system, Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) was embedded into the stationery collar inside a custom thrust bearing in a scaled model of a typical propulsion system. The number of blades of the propeller and its rotational speed were altered to obtain an understanding of the characteristic vibrations of the shaft propulsion system. The rig comprised of the propeller, shaft, journal bearings and a thrust bearing. A two and three blade propeller and a four, five and six pad bearing were tested. A strain gauge and accelerometer were used to infer the propeller force and enable comparison with the PVDF signals. As a result of the asymmetrical flow around the propeller, the blade passing frequencies (BPF) are clearly observed. This frequency contribution was present at all speeds tested. The PVDF signal also showed significant pad passing frequency (PPF) and BPF and modulation of both. View Full-Text
Keywords: PVDF; monitoring; thrust bearing; force transducer PVDF; monitoring; thrust bearing; force transducer

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Youssef, A.; Matthews, D.; Guzzomi, A.; Pan, J. Contact Force Measurement in an Operational Thrust Bearing using PVDF Film at the Blade and Pad Passing Frequencies. Sensors 2018, 18, 3956.

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