Analysis of bearing behaviour in LBE

SCK•CEN Mentor

Caers Ben,, +32 (0)14 33 80 08

Expert group

LBE Components and Experiments

SCK•CEN Co-mentor

Schuurmans Paul , , +32 (0)14 33 34 45

Short project description

One of the big challenges in MYRRHA is the loading and unloading of the fuel into the reactor core, submerged in liquid metal.  The hostile environment necessitates the use of robotic arms for fuel handling and maintenance activities.  However, corrosion and embrittlement from the liquid metal, high temperatures and lack of lubrication combine to make very unfavourable conditions for the mechanical components in these robotic arms.  SCK-CEN has designed and built a unique test facility, RHAPTER, to study the behaviour of electrical cables, gears, leadscrews, ball bearings and journal bearings – basically all mechanical components required to build a functional robot – operating in liquid metal.

Five years of experiments in RHAPTER have given us extensive experience with mechanical systems in LBE, in particular with the operation and analysis of rolling element bearings in LBE.  Today, the focus of our research is shifting towards journal bearings.  However, the analysis methods developed for rolling element bearings experiments are not readily transferable towards journal bearings, as the sliding friction encountered there results in different wear mechanisms and different dynamic behaviour.  This Post-Doc aims to contribute to the experimental programme for journal bearings, translating our experience in bearing analysis to journal bearings and developing analysis methods specific for journal bearings in LBE.


The goal of this Post-Doc is to advance the knowledge of journal bearing behaviour in liquid metals through an in-depth study of existing and novel methods for measurement and data analysis.
The post-doc researcher will contribute to the experimental programme for journal bearings, including selection of materials and coatings, fine-tuning of design parameters, follow-up of the tests and improvements to the existing test setup in RHAPTER.  His/her main focus will be on the development of methodologies and procedures for analysis of bearing behaviour and failure modes through online data analysis and post-test sample inspection.  Existing methods developed for ball bearings will need to be adapted for the different wear mechanisms present in journal bearings and specific techniques for follow-up of journal bearings tests will need to be developed for use in LBE.
Analysis methods include online monitoring of the bearings through traditional vibration and torque measurements or through innovative methods like submerged eddy current or LVDT sensors and sample analysis methods like visual inspection, dimensional and surface profile analysis and light and electron microscopy.
The data generated in this Post-Doc will allow the establishment of an envelope for use of journal bearings for designers of liquid metal cooled systems in general and MYRRHA in particular.

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be


The candidate needs to have a background in

Electromechanics , Other , materials science
Before applying, please consult the guidelines for application for Post-doc.