A long-standing theoretical and practical problem, whether the viscoelasticity can have a measurable and beneficial effect on lubrication performance characteristics, is readdressed in this paper. The upper convected Maxwell model is chosen to study the influence of viscoelasticity on lubricant thin film flows. By employing characteristic lubricant relaxation times in an order of magnitude analysis, a perturbation method is developed for analysing the flow of a Maxwell lubricant between two narrow surfaces. The effect of viscoelasticity on the lubricant velocity and pressure is examined, and the influence of minimum film thickness on lubrication characteristics is investigated. An order of magnitude analysis reveals that the pressure distribution is significantly affected by the presence of fluid viscoelasticity when the minimum film thickness is sufficiently small. This mechanism suggests that viscoelasticity does indeed enhance the lubricant pressure field and produce a beneficial effect on lubrication performance, which is consistent with some experimental observations. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
Li, X. K., Luo, Y., Qi, Y., & Zhang, R. (2011). On non-Newtonian lubrication with the upper convected Maxwell model. Applied Mathematical Modelling, 35(5), 2309–2323. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apm.2010.11.003