By Guy Pethybridge, Waukesha Bearings
Published in International Oil & Gas Engineer, February, 2005

Polymer materials can be applied in a number of ways to enhance the capability of hydrodynamic bearings. The commonest use is to increase the temperature capability of the bearing to handle higher process temperatures.

Polymer-lined thrust bearings have been a vital component in borehole electrical submersible pump systems where ambient temperatures are commonly in the range of 120–180°C. The great depth of the boreholes and the limited space available further increase the stringency of the application, with load requirements of around 8 MPa. Recent innovations have seen new applications operating with downhole temperatures in excess of 200°C.

This temperature capability can also be applied to gas turbines to reduce system costs. Here savings come from elimination of the post-operation lubrication system as the bearings can cope with the large thermal effect resulting from process heat soaking back along the shaft to affect the bearings.

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