SKF bearings promise to reduce energy consumption

SKF has developed a new family of bearings that reduce energy consumption by at least 30% compared to standard ISO products. This bearing family comprises the two bearing types that are the most used bearings in the world, deep groove ball bearings and tapered roller bearings. With this innovation SKF is now, on its 100 year anniversary, presenting a new technical solution that will provide the world's industry with the possibility to substantially increase its energy savings.

Manufacturing will start in the second half of 2007.

The demonstration of the potential of these bearings on the reduction of energy consumption of machinery is supported by the European Commission's LIFE-Environment programme 2006. This programme supports new methods and techniques for dealing with a wide range of environmental problems.

SKF's Energy Efficient tapered roller bearing

This bearing will deliver energy savings on average of at least 30% and will initially target industrial segments where applications exceed 1 MW power consumption. Such applications are in railway and transmissions in heavy industry, ships, wind energy, conveyors, and extruders. The initial size range will be 200 - 600 mm outside diameter and the first applications are expected to be in wind turbines.

As an example of the potential of these bearings, consider all wind turbines operating in the world at the end of 2006. If all bearings in the gearbox of all these turbines could be replaced by SKF Energy Efficient tapered roller bearings, they would generate an estimated extra 770 million kWh per year. That is equivalent to the total energy consumption of 1 million Swedish households for one month.

The technical improvements that deliver the energy savings are design related; surface topography, raceway profiles and geometry, together with a special polymer cage and an optimized set of rollers.

The optimized roller set means a lighter bearing, which itself is more energy efficient because it takes less power to move the rolling elements. It also lowers inertia of the moving parts thus reducing the chance of skidding and smearing, which would otherwise affect performance and service life.

SKF's Energy Efficient deep groove ball bearing

This bearing will deliver energy savings of at least 30% in most applications. Initially the focus will be on lightly loaded applications and the first applications will be industrial electrical motors driving machinery in many segments. Production will initially cover the smaller diameter sized series.

As an example of the potential of these bearings, consider that the energy consumption in industrial motor driven systems in USA and European Union is 136 million kWh per year. If these motors used SKF Energy Efficient deep groove ball bearings, the estimated savings would be 2,460 million kWh per year This is equivalent to the total energy consumption of over 3 million Swedish households for one month.

The technical improvements that deliver the energy savings are optimized internal geometry, a new polymer cage and lower friction grease.

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