Increase Bearing Capacity

Initially used as a high-performing substitute for metallic linings, engineered polymers now provide increased bearing capacity and reliability for a wide variety of rotating equipment.

Polymers combine higher strength at elevated temperatures and higher fatigue strength than babbitt with embedability and conformability comparable to babbitt’s.

With these properties, polymer-lined and solid polymer components can serve as direct replacements for babbitt components or be incorporated into new designs to extend operating limits.

Combination bearing with solid polymer thrust pads and polymer-lined journal pads
Thinner Hydrodynamic Films

Surface properties and the mechanical strength of engineered polymers allow bearings to operate with thinner films than traditional babbitt bearing materials, providing:

  • High load capacity – up to 10 MPa (1500 psi)
  • Reduced power loss – up to 30% savings
  • Operation with low-viscosity lubricants
Higher Temperature Capability

Polymer materials have higher operating temperature capabilities – up to 250°C (482°F) – and retain their mechanical properties at higher temperatures than babbitt, allowing exceptional performance at elevated temperatures.

Embedability

Polymers, in a similar way to babbitt, will embed dirt that enters the fluid film, preventing damage to the journal or collar.

Operation with Challenging Lubricants

Advanced materials are compatible with even the most challenging lubricants and process fluids, including mineral/synthetic oils, water/seawater, water-glycol, freon, toluene, amine, crude oil, hydrocarbon condensates, liquid O2, liquid CO2, methane, propane, butane, and hexane.

Electrical Insulation

The high electrical resistance of polymers is utilized in motor and generator applications to prevent damaging currents from passing through the bearing and housing to ground. This characteristic eliminates the need for a separate insulating layer.

Corrosion Resistance

Engineered polymers are resistant to most chemicals, including hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. This prevents bearing damage associated with chemical attack by the working fluid.

Reduction of Start-up Torque

Polymer bearing materials have a lower coefficient of friction than babbitt and can be used to reduce torque and wear at start-up, eliminating the need for hydrostatic lift systems in some applications.

Waukesha Bearing -Polymer Bearings

Intro to Bearing Materials

The selection of the bearing materials plays a significant role in the performance of fluid film bearings. Load, speed, operating temperature, insulation requirements, and lubricant type and cleanliness may all play into the material choice.

Download our “Introduction to Fluid Film Bearing Materials” for an overview of material characteristics, benefits and limitations in fluid film bearing use.

Download the White Paper

Typical Applications

Oil Lubrication

Subsea Pumps and Motors

Polymer-lined thrust and journal bearings, widely used in multi-phase booster pumps and water injection pumps, operate on very thin hydrodynamic films to meet the demand for high load capacity and long life.

Read More

Gas Turbines

Polymer-lined tilt pad thrust and journal bearings can replace babbitt bearings to withstand high temperatures resulting from heat soak. This high-temperature capability provides additional safety in the event the back-up lubrication system fails or can even eliminate the need for a back-up system, saving on both weight and cost.

Read More

solid polymer thrust pad bearings
Electric Submersible Pumps (ESPs)

Polymer-lined tilt pad thrust bearings are the standard for ESP operating temperatures up to 200°C (392°F) and loads up to 8 MPa (1160 psi). They are used in the motor to account for thermal expansion and in the seal/protector section to withstand the pump load. As an additional benefit in the motor, the bearings provide electrical insulation.

Read More

Water or Process Lubrication

Pumps

Polymer bearings can use process fluids as the lubricant, requiring fewer seals in a pump and eliminating the need for a separate oil lubrication system. Solid polymer bearings provide a solution for load capacities up to 10 MPa (1500 psi) in clean water and have been used successfully in reverse osmosis pumps, boiler feed pumps and mine-dewatering pumps.

Read More

Polymer-lined journal bearing
Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) Turbines

ORC turbines use solvents such as toluene and hexane as both the working fluid and the lubricant for the bearings. Polymer journal and thrust bearings can sustain the thin films associated with these low-viscosity fluids. The sealing and the flow path of the lubricant are key design considerations for successful operation.

Water-Filled Motors

Thrust bearings with polymer surfaces support high pump loads in water-filled motors and are lubricated by the water cooling the motor.

Read More

Water-Lubricated Compressors

Using polymer bearings with water lubrication in compressors eliminates oil contamination of the compressed product and simplifies the sealing components.

Read More