09 May Bearing the energy burden in water treatment
The water industry is one of the largest industrial users of energy. The UN estimates that 0.62-0.87 KWh/m3 is required for wastewater treatment1 and it is estimated that electricity costs account for around 40% of all operational costs in wastewater treatment plants2.
Moreover, US Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has projected that, in wastewater facilities, 10–20% energy savings can be reached through a better control and optimisation of the process3.
It is therefore in the best interest of the environment and the economics of wastewater treatment plants, for operators to find efficiencies in energy use.
One component that plays a significant role in energy efficiency of the water treatment plants is the bearings, according to Tony Tormey, BSC’s Product Manager of Industrial Bearings.
“Bearings play an important role in the overall efficiency and sustainability of a water treatment facility. The energy savings might seem negligible but if you consider all of the gearboxes, pumps, aerators and electric motors that use different types of bearings, it makes sense,” he says.
BSC, as Australia’s largest distributor of bearings, offers the FAG X-life bearings by Schaeffler – a German-engineered brand that carries energy efficiency at the heart of its bearing designs.
Andreas Pieper, Manager of the Engineering Department for Schaeffler Australia, says Schaeffler’s FAG X-life bearings are designed with precision manufacturing techniques and incorporate design features that result in lower friction and therefore less energy consumption.
“The FAG brand consists of a wide range of cylindrical, tapered, and spherical roller bearings, axial spherical roller bearings, single and double row angular contact ball bearings, and four-point contact ball bearings – each offering a unique combination of features,” says Pieper.
“The X-life is a seal of quality and high-performance by Schaeffler. With the X-life series, Schaeffler has incorporated design and manufacturing improvements that increase the bearings’ load ratings, offer higher precision and improve energy efficiency.”
Surface finish plays a major part in the energy efficiency of the X-life series, according to Pieper.
“Smooth and uniform internal and external surfaces improve the bearings’ coefficient of friction. Schaeffler also uses a machining process – known as Plateau honing – that improves lubrication control and lowers friction in the bearings,” he explains.
While the bearing life depends on multiple variables, including the type of bearing and the application it is used for, Schaeffler estimates that a FAG X-life bearing lasts on average 7-20% more than conventional bearings used for the same purpose.
BSC’s relationship with customers does not end with the sale. Tormey says the BSC sales and engineering staff work with the Schaeffler engineering team to solve any problems that a plant might be facing. The BSC team also offers site surveys, store surveys, plant mapping and onsite training upon request.
“When we visit a plant, the BSC and Schaeffler engineering teams make sure that the customer is using the right bearing with optimum specifications. We also look at the sealing arrangements to make sure that the bearings are protected against any ingress of dirt or water,” says Pieper. “Our advice might be as simple as suggesting better protection against the sun, because heat exposure and ultraviolet rays accelerate the ageing process of the rubber material thus leading to earlier damage of the rubber seals.”
In some remote areas in Australia, the pump houses between the reservoir and the treatment facility are located kilometres away from a residential area. Using real-time condition monitoring can have great benefits in such cases,” he adds. Popular hardware to enable this is the cost-efficient FAG SmartCheck unit which communicates signals wireless. Schaeffler experts regularly analyse and report the condition of the bearings.
Tormey further points out how important it is for water plant operators to have parts readily available. BSC’s footprint across Australia and partnership with Schaeffler means that customers have access to critical components at all times.
“BSC’s seasoned staff across our national branches are ready to assist customers with all sort of rotation needs. With Schaeffler’s superior FAG X-life product, we are confident that we can add value to your operations.”
- (2014). World Water Day 2014 Advocacy Guide.
- (2015). UN World Water Development Report 2015: Water for a Sustainable World.
- Copeland, C. (2014). Energy-Water Nexus: The Water Sector’s Energy Use.Congressional Research Service.