Frictional Heat

An investigation of frictional heat generated in serrated cutting of bone


The research is the development of an accurate system or device that will enable the researcher to gather accurate information about the rate of heating and heat transfer in the bone from the cutting process. Bone is an anisotropic material and as part of the research completed it is proposed to study the manner on which heat is transferred through the bone during the cutting process and in all and to observe the effect of factors such as cutting speed, depth, width and kerf of cut on the heat generated.

The Research Team

Mr. Ger O’Reilly Principal Researcher Department of Engineering, IT, Sligo.
Dr. Brendan McCormack Joint Researcher Department of Engineering, IT, Sligo.
Mr. Hamid Khalili-Parsa Research Student Department of Engineering, IT, Sligo.


Surgical procedures such as osteotomy and hip replacement involve the cutting of bone with the aid of various manual and powered cutting instruments including manual and powered bone saws. The basic mechanics of bone sawing processes are consistent with most other material sawing process such as wood or metal. Frictional rubbing bewteen the blade of the saw and the bone results in the generation of localised heating of the cut bone. Research studies have been carried out which consider the design of the bone saw which deals with specifics of the saw teeth geometry and research which examines the effect of drilling operations ion heating of the bone has shown that elevated temperatures will occur from frictional overheating. This overheating in localised areas is known to have an impact on the rate of healing of the bone post operation and the sharpness life of the blade. The purpose of this study is to examine the extent of the heat generated in the bone cutting process and to develop thermal measurement sensor to be used in evaluation of the temperature flow from the cutting zone through the adjacent areas. The project will also examine the potential for use of cutting fluids and lubricants in surgical procedures for reduction of the thermal affect for minimization of patient trauma and enhancement of blade life.

Project Details

The primary aim of this research program is to establish a systematic device and procedure for the measurement of frictional heat generated in the bone cutting process.

Review of the current literature on cutting of bone using serrated cutting processes and review of sensors used in previous bone studies for measurement of heat and heat transfer in bone .

Development of temperature measurement device suitable for measurement of localised frictional heating in bone arising from the cutting process.

Completion of studies involving the measurement of heat transfer from the cutting process looking at factor such as cutting speed, width of cut etc. and the benefits of using coolants such as saline solution during the operative procedures to reduce heat.

Data analysis and presentation of system for relationship of temperature to serrated cutting processes and serrated cutting sharpness.

Preparation of Post Graduate Degree Report and at least one appropriate research paper for peer review journal.