Seals and synthetic materials key to energy efficient plant 01 October 2013
Although seals are often the smallest and apparently least significant components in new plant and machinery, they frequently have the greatest impact on its function.
That's the warning from Harald Peschke, manager of sealing technology and synthetic materials at Schaeffler, who insists that a defective seal can have disastrous consequences – as when the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded, due to the failure of a sealing ring in the solid fuel rocket.
"As a supplier of rolling bearings and linear motion systems, sealing technology is a critical part of product development at Schaeffler," states Peschke.
"Helping customers to select the right sealing technology and materials is absolutely vital to their applications," he continues.
"Schaeffler's standard sealing rings catalogue, for example, helps customers to select the most appropriate seal from 8,000 components and 400 variants, ranging from non-contact seals for dental drills – with diameters of a few millimetres and speeds of 100,000rpm – to contact seals for slow rotating wind turbine bearings, having diameters of several metres."
Peschke makes the point that Schaeffler also helps customers by using design calculation and simulation software tools, which are particularly useful when it comes to adapting or refining standard seals.
And he argues that the earlier the company becomes involved in an engineering design process, the more the firm can help accelerate product development – and/or minimise product lifecycle costs.
For Peschke, one of the best examples of sophisticated sealing technology is Schaeffler's UniAir valve control system for internal combustion petrol engines.
Schaeffler, he explains, developed sealing solutions for more than 20 positions on the valve control system.
"Much effort here has been put into the reduction of vehicle CO2 emissions by developing seals that minimise frictional losses in the bearings," he says.
"But achieving higher energy efficiencies often means that system components are being asked to operate in higher compression ratios and temperatures – which means seals and synthetic materials must be designed to withstand such conditions, too."
Schaeffler (UK) Ltd
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