Mill Shaft Exposed to Extreme Environment


Untimely failure of the three-roller mill shaft in sugar cane industry is cause of reduced efficiency. This also has a cascading effect as sugar factories run as a seasonal industry.

What is the issue during sugar cane crushing?

Three-roller mill is used to crush sugar cane for juice extraction and is inevitable equipment in sugar manufacturing process globally. Failure due to wear on the top surface of roller shaft in sugar cane mill is a major cause of concern. Initiation of cracks and wear on the surface of the shaft lead to the crack propagation. Consequently, the shaft fails due low cycle fatigue. Untimely failure of the shaft can drastically reduce the productivity and hence the profitability due to extended downtime and unusually high maintenance costs. This failure also affects the reliability of the system. In most cases service life of the roller shaft is reduced by half due this type of failures.

During operation of the mill, the interface is often contaminated with sugar cane juice and dried waste called bagasse. Therefore, it very important to study the most fundamental aspects of wear and friction characteristics of sugar mill roller shaft materials in different sliding media which are present during service conditions. This translational research project our understanding and the science of the initiation of cracks at multi-scales (nanometer and micrometer length scales).

The service conditions of the roller shaft were simulated in the laboratory. We have investigated that coefficient of friction (COF) was reduced but the surface damage was severe when the contaminations were present at the sliding interface of shaft materials. The complex tribochemistry between the sugar cane juice, bagasse, lubricant, and sliding materials caused the initiation of cracks on the surface. This understanding further helped to propose the potential remedy to reduce the surface crack initiation.

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