Current estimations are that over 40 per cent of all lubricants are ultimately released into the environment by seeping into water or soil, or evaporating into the atmosphere. A study by a research team of chemists, mechanical engineers and environmentalists at the RWTH University in Aachen, Germany, found that Germany alone consumes 250,000 tonnes of lubrication each year. To put this into perspective, this would fill 8000 standard tanker Lorries. Most countries have a threshold level permissible in waste streams, and hundreds of millions of pounds are spent annually treating the waste water to get to acceptable levels.
The Iglidur plain bearings from Igus are tribologically optimised to ensure that no lubrication is ever required. These bearings run without any oil or grease, so no contaminants escape into the environment. The continuous development of the Igus product range means that more and more applications that traditionally use lubricated metal plain bushes can now benefit from environmentally-friendly plastic Iglidur bearings.
Manufacturing plastic plain bearings is said to be very positive from an environmental point of view. While 15 litres of oil are required to produce 1 litre of aluminium, and 11 litres of oil to make 1 litre of steel, only 1.8 litres of oil are necessary to produce 1 litre of plastic. In fact only 4 per cent of the world’s oil production is used in the manufacture of plastics, and this value is likely to decrease with the progress that is being made in the organic production of polymers. Also, the first steps are being made in extracting carbon dioxide from power station emissions and using this to produce polymers such as polycarbonate and polyurethane.
As well as the 'no lubrication' environmental benefit of Iglidur bearings, there is also the issue of weight reduction. The lightweight bearings also help to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide output in vehicles, aircraft and plant machinery. Also, Iglidur polymer plain bearings have, as standard, high chemical resistance, whereas metal plain bearings often have to be coated to achieve this. The coating methods used include zinc plating, treatment and galvanising, which is both unhealthy and high in energy consumption.
Iglidur plain polymer bearings are designed to be dimensionally interchangeable with lubricated plain metal bearings. Igus says: "Go green with minimal effort, fit Iglidur polymer bearings and protect our future."
For more information, go to www.igus.co.uk/wpck/default.aspx?PageNr=2400&CL=gb-en.