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Finite element analysis of conformal contacts in water hydraulic axial piston pumps incorporating advanced ceramic materials

McConnachie, Jennifer


Jennifer McConnachie


M. J. (Michael J.), 1957 Fagan


The use of water as a hydraulic fluid in a pump necessitates the use of conformal contacts to reduce the high rates of wear and leakage losses that result from the low viscosity and lubricity of water. Swashplate type axial piston pumps are ideal in this respect because they incorporate such conformal contacts. Furthermore, the development of such a pump for use with water, especially sea-water, critically relies on the correct selection and application of materials.

The purpose of this research work is firstly to examine the contact conditions within an axial piston pump for a range of sleeved and lined components manufactured from a variety of different materials. The use of finite element analysis with gap elements is a useful way of determining the contact pressure distribution between conformally contacting components. It is shown that this method gives excellent agreement with available analytical methods for the two-dimensional cylindrical and axisymmetric spherical cases, and thus can be extended to layered components. Extension to three dimensions, when the contact cannot be accounted for by plane strain or plane stress conditions, is also possible, allowing a much more representative analysis of the contact conditions within an axial piston pump. No single combination of materials is identified as being the most suitable, rather, the method enables the consequences of choosing materials for their tribological characteristics to be examined.

Once the contact conditions are known within the pump it is then possible to more accurately design the pump components. However, conventional deterministic methods are not appropriate for designing ceramic components, due to the inherent scatter of limiting defects, and statistical methods are necessary. Thus the second part of this research work is aimed at reviewing and examining the different probabilistic design methods with the long-term view of determining which, if any, are best suited to the design of ceramic components in this particular application. It is conduded that no single method adequately predicts the probability of failure of ceramic specimens with more complex stress distributions than four-point flexure bars.


McConnachie, J. (1995). Finite element analysis of conformal contacts in water hydraulic axial piston pumps incorporating advanced ceramic materials. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Apr 10, 2017
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Engineering design and manufacture
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Engineering Design and Manufacture, The University of Hull
Award Date Dec 1, 1995


Thesis (36.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 1995 McConnachie, Jennifer. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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