Plastic ball bearings are always reliable in water generators
Patrick Czaja | 5. August 2021
Water generators convert the potential energy of water into mechanical or electrical energy. The goal is to make water power usable. This is generally accomplished with dams, turbines in running water, and tidal power plants in seas and oceans. Energy conversion on the oceans and igus’s xiros plastic ball bearings: What do they have to do with each other? Let us explain.
A customer had a plant for converting wave energy into electric energy by means of floats arranged in a line. Within these floats was a mechanism that converted the up-and-down movement into electrical energy. A cable then transferred the energy to land. Because the system is continuously used in seawater, the customer was looking for a bearing that would increase system service life and eliminate maintenance.
Description of the problem
The waves sometimes exert very high lateral forces , called drift forces, on the floats. The floats must be strong, low-friction, and use as little lubricant as possible.
A special linear guide was developed for the float. The pivot points, which are outside the float, provide great stability against the drift forces exerted by the waves. The joints are thus outside the float. By switching to xiros polymer ball bearings, the customer was able to eliminate the enclosures necessary in conventional lubricated rolling bearings. Seawater flows through the plastic ball bearings continuously, and there is no danger of substances escaping a leaky bearing enclosure to pollute the water.
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