Thermoplastic bearing manufacturer Vesconite Bearings is tendering for the supply of the largest Vesconite pump bearings that it has ever supplied.
The bearings are believed to be required by a large water utility in Asia, and it is likely that they will be used in a hydro-electric project that pumps significant quantities of water over large distances.
This is surmised by Vesconite Bearings technical consultant Paul Potgieter, who comments that the bearing manufacturer has never had a pump-bearing order for pumps with shafts measuring from 490mm to 580mm in diameter.
“I would imagine that the bearings will be supplied to a hydro project,” says Potgieter, who is in discussions with a third party who is supplying a primary contractor for the project.
Bearings of this size would be typically supplied for marine applications in which they would be used in rudder and stern tubes, or would be supplied to the sugar industry, which sometimes requires similarly large bearings.
They would be desired because of their dimensional stability, since the polymer that they are made from does not swell, as well as for their good wear properties, since the lifespan of bearings made from this polymer is longer than that of many competing materials.
Potgieter confirms that the bearings are standard stock items but would need to be machined down to the exact sizes specified in the tender.
Other specifications that Vesconite Bearings has recommended to suit the material are that the bearings’ wall thicknesses measure 10% of the shaft sizes and that the bearings’ lengths are the same as the outside diameter of the bearings.
It is likely that, if the tender is approved, it will take a year to receive the final contract for the bearings.
This is because a pump of this size will take a long time to engineer, says Potgieter.
The Asia Pacific region is the leading consumer of hydropower, with the BP’s 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy noting that the region uses 40.5% of all hydropower energy that is produced globally.
China, India, Japan, Vietnam and Pakistan are among the countries with the largest hydroelectricity consumption in the Asia Pacific region.
Picture: Vescovile Bearings’ Johan Bekker producing a large bearing for the marine industry using a vertical lathe (Image: Vesconite)