Rolling element bearing (REB) prognosis is the process of forecasting the remaining operational life, future condition, or probability of failure based on the acquired condition monitoring data. One of the common reasons for rolling element bearings failure is the rolling contact fatigue (RCF). Complete understanding of the fatigue process is critical for estimation of the bearing remaining useful life (RUL) and allows planning maintenance actions. In the current work, it is assumed that the spall generation, on the surface of the raceway, is a result of RCF. However, after the first spall formation, the bearing might be fully operational for millions of cycles. Thus, for the estimation of the bearing RUL it is also important to understand the damage propagation process. The proposed method of RUL prediction is separated into two steps: diagnostics and prognostics. The diagnostics includes characterization of the defect in terms of location, type, and extent. The prognostics includes estimation of the defect propagation as a function of time, using its characterization derived from the diagnostics step. It is expected that results of the current study will provide an estimation of the bearing’s RUL: from first spall formation to the unoperational bearing. The spall generation process, as a result of RCF, is modeled based on continuum damage
mechanics with representation of material grain structure and implemented using a Finite Element software. The results of the model are in a good agreement with published theoretical and experimental data. The paper also includes a discussion on the ongoing research and the methodology that will be implemented as part of it.
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