Study of Wear Mechanisms in Braking Systems with HVOF-Coated Discs
The European Union has undertaken several efforts to reduce the non-exhaust particulate matter emissions from road vehicles. One of the major sources of these emissions is the wear of brake pads and discs. The experimental work presented in this thesis has been performed within the European project called LOWBRASYS that aims at reducing the particulate matter emissions due to the wear of the components of braking systems. Different strategies have been identified for reaching this aim but the present work focuses on the investigation of the wear mechanisms at the disc-pad interface and on their role on the emission in the atmosphere and in the environment of wear debris. In order to achieve the reduction in the particulate matter emissions, the traditional gray cast iron discs have been coated with different cermet coatings deposited via high velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) process. A further attempt for improving the wear resistance of the gray cast iron discs was performed by applying on them an industrial heat treatment. The cermet coatings have been widely employed in the field of the oil and gas industry for improving the wear resistance and the service life of valves and pipes but their use in the field of road-vehicles-braking-systems has never been explored so far. The present work focuses on the tribological characterization of HVOF coated and heat treated discs performed by means of laboratory-scale-pin-on-disc tribometers at both room and high temperatures (300°C). The sliding speed of 1.57 m/s and the nominal contact pressure of 1 MPa used for this characterization have been selected in order to replicate the actual contact conditions between brake pads and brake discs during an urban cycle braking action. Since the use of lab-scale experimental apparatuses, these tests have not been meant to reproduce real braking conditions for which specific dyno bench tests have been performed in further characterization tests. The pins used during the PoD characterization, made of three different commercially-available friction materials, had dimensions of 12 mm in height and 6 and 10 mm in diameter. The discs, 6 mm in thickness and 58.9 mm in diameter, were coated with a 70 µm thick layer of cermet materials. The heat treated discs had the same dimensions of the coated ones. The tested specimens have been machined from the real braking components, the pins have been extracted from the brake pads while the discs from the braking tracks of the rotors. Since the novelty of the application of the HVOF coatings in the field of braking systems, two preliminary studies of the surface parameters of the coated discs and of the running-in of the pin-disc system have been performed. The first one was conducted on WC-CoCr coated discs polished with different intensities in order to achieve four different average surface roughnesses: 5, 1, 0.1, 0.04 µm respectively. The results of the study highlighted that the wear of the friction material decreased by four order of magnitude by passing from an average surface roughness equal to 5 µm to 0.04 µm. The friction coefficient followed the opposite trend passing from 0.3 for the 5 µm rough coating to 0.7 for the 0.04 µm. The SEM observation of the wear tracks on the discs revealed a high material transfer from the pins in the case of the 5 µm rough coatings due to the abrasive interaction exerted by the hard coating asperities on the relatively soft friction material. The compactness of the material transferred onto the disc surface increased as the average surface roughness of the coating decreased leading to the formation of contact patches also on the coated disc surfaces. From the profilometric analysis of the worn disc their wear resulted negligible. The EDXS analysis of the secondary plateaus of pins detected an increasingly concentration of tungsten and cobalt with the decrease in the surface roughness of the coating meaning that, although the wear of the coating could not be detected from the profilometer, some minor transfer of material occurred during the sliding action. From all the considerations mentioned above the most promising surface roughness, in terms of frictional performances and industrial feasibility, was equal to 1 µm. The second study aimed at the investigation of the running-in stage of the WC-CoCr and Cr3C2-NiCr coated discs in the as-sprayed (Ra ≈ 5 µm) and polished conditions (Ra ≈ 1 µm). From this former investigation the polishing procedure of the coated discs was found fundamental in order to reach the best frictional and wear performances; the spontaneous surface modifications occurring during pin-on-disc tests were not as efficient as the controlled polishing procedure in reducing the surface parameters of the coated discs and so in improving their performances. On the basis of the results of the two former studies presented above, the tribological characterization at both room and high temperature (300°C) of the WC-CoCr, Cr3C2-NiCr, WC-Cr3C2-CoCr, WC-FeCrAlY coated discs and of the heat treated one was performed on specimens with an average surface roughness at around 1 µm. Three different friction material formulations were used in order to optimize their frictional and wear performances with the disc counterface. In all cases the EDXS analysis detected the presence of the coating elements, i.e. tungsten, cobalt and nickel, inside the secondary plateaus of the friction material. Depending on the abrasive content of the friction materials and on the testing temperature the amount of the transferred elements varied, i.e. a low amount of abrasives and a high testing temperature gave rise to a reduction in the elements transferred on the pin surfaces. The best tribological combination was the coupling between the friction material FMB, i.e. the one with the lowest amount of abrasives, and the WC-FeCrAlY coated disc. The results attained with the pin-on-disc tribological characterization of the friction materials were validated during full-scale dyno bench tests. These tests were performed on the most promising materials and they had a twofold aim: as mentioned above they were used to validate the results of the tribometer tests and to collect the particulate matter emitted during braking. The analysis of the wear debris highlighted that, in the case of the friction material FM4 slid against the WC-CoCr coated disc, some cobalt was present. From the deeper analysis of the debris resulted that traces of tungsten and cobalt were found only in the coarser fraction of wear debris, collected on the PM1 filter. The coupled SEM+EDXS analysis of the finer particulate matter, with an average aerodynamic diameter varying from 0.25 to 0.054 µm, did not detected the presence of the coating elements. This was consistent with the observations of the PM1 wear debris that identified WC particles with dimensions comparable to that of the initial carbide particle size inside the coatings; the wear mechanism of the coatings seemed to be the carbide pullout from the metallic matrix without the further fragmentation of the particles due to sliding. Nevertheless, during one of the TEM observation of the particles with an average aerodynamic diameter of 0.094 µm the SAED analysis detected the presence of W2C. On the basis of this last observation and considering that the presence of cobalt inside the finest fraction of debris could not be completely disregarded since it could remain stuck on the W2C particles, the selected coating material for the application in braking systems was the WC-FeCrAlY. This conclusion was consistent with the frictional and wear data attained from the PoD tribological characterization that identified the FMB friction material and the WC-FeCrAlY coated discs as the best coupling in terms of frictional and wear behavior. The study of the thermal behavior of the novel developed braking materials during a pin-on-disc room temperature test was performed by means of a finite element simulation based on the perfect contact approach. The heat flux applied as the thermal input of the model was calculated from the experimental data acquired during the tests. The calibration of the boundary conditions was performed by comparing the experimental curves of the temperatures acquired during the tests with the temperature curves calculated from the FE analysis. The results of the simulations showed that the temperature field during the pin-on-disc tests was influenced from both the friction coefficient and from the thermal properties of the coated discs, i.e. the lower thermal conductivity of the coatings gave rise to a higher average contact temperature with respect the uncoated cast iron discs. The results of FE analysis were then used to propose an analytical relationship that could be used for describing the raise in temperature during a pin-on-disc test without performing further thermal simulations.