Rolls-Royce has been awarded the Baden-Württemberg environmental technology prize for innovative sliding bearing The Rolls-Royce business unit Power Systems has developed a sliding bearing for its mtu range of engines that reduces their fuel consumption by 1%. 

The new bearings significantly reduce the amount of friction between bearing and crankshaft and also enable prediction of when maintenance will next be required. “This is an innovation with huge potential, because the new bearings can simply replace the existing bearings in a whole range of  applications,” said Thekla Walker, environment minister of Baden-Württemberg, at a ceremony on 4 November to mark the award of the Baden-Württemberg Environmental Technology Prize to R-R for its achievement in developing the new bearing.

The bearing surface, instead of being entirely smooth, is furbished with fine grooves, which, together with the lubricant, produce an acquaplaning-like effect which functions as an antifriction layer. This anti-friction layer reduces, for example, the friction-induced losses arising between crankshaft and bearing by 20-35%, depending on the operating mode. 

The new bearing is the result of a collaborative effort between a small project team in Friedrichshafen, bearing manufacturer Miba, and the MontanUniversität Leoben in Austria.

“The technology behind sliding bearings is very mature and very well established and to genuinely improve it you need outstanding engineering expertise and innovative talent. So we're very proud that along with our partners, we've succeeded in developing an optimised metal slide bearing that can be installed in our engines without the need for further modification”, commented Dr Otto Preiss, COO and CTO at Rolls-Royce Power Systems. 

mtu engines produced in higher volumes by the company are to be fitted with the new sliding bearing in the near future. mtu engines already in service will be progressively retro-fitted in the course of overhauls. The plan is for the new bearing to be marketed as an individual component by Miba AG.

The bearing, for which a patent is pending, is not only suitable for use in mtu engines from Rolls-Royce: “It is suitable for all equipment in which sliding bearings must withstand high loads – for example utility vehicle engines, turbines and wind power plants, which, thanks to the new bearing, can go into operation a little more quickly than before and are therefore productive forlonger,” commented Dr Thomas Kottke, who is heading the project.

The new bearing can also indicate when the next major maintenance will be due by producing a change in the sound signature of the bearing that can be interpreted accordingly. 

Photo:  Rolls-Royce has been awarded the Baden-Württemberg environmental technology prize for innovative sliding bearing