Simplex BlueRun: Water-lubricated bearings promote ocean sustainability
A game-changing innovation is coming to the maritime industry, aiming to promote cleaner oceans and comply with strict environmental regulations. Simplex BlueRun bearings, developed by SKF, are an eco-friendly solution that replaces traditional oil-lubricated stern tubes with a sustainable alternative: water.
Currently, around 90% of the world’s fleet of ships use oil-lubricated stern tubes. However, in polar regions and in US waters, regulations are more stringent. The Polar Code prohibits any oil discharge, and VGP2013 requires the use of environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs) at all oil-sea interfaces whenever possible. Therefore, many ship operators have been looking at alternative solutions such as non-greasy sea interface stern tubes such as the Simplex Airspace seal or the innovative approach of water-lubricated stern tubes such as the Simplex BlueRun.
The main advantage of the Simplex BlueRun is the use of water as a lubricant, completely eliminating the need for stern tube oil on board ships. This replacement brings significant benefits to both the environment and vessel operators. First, water as a lubricant contributes to reducing the carbon footprint of vessels, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the risk of oil spills is eliminated, ensuring safer navigation and preventing damage to marine ecosystems.
Another advantage of Simplex BlueRun bearings is the elimination of oil storage, handling, and discharge processes that can be costly and time-consuming. With water-based lubrication, these concerns are eliminated, simplifying maintenance operations and reducing associated costs.
Simplex BlueRun bearings are manufactured with specially developed SKF polymer bearing bushings. These bushings are made from a high-strength polyurethane, tested in over 100 alternatives, which has proven ideal for withstanding the levels of mechanical wear and tear in the harsh environments below the sea’s surface. During testing, the material demonstrated resistance to hydrolysis and minimal swelling, crucial characteristics for water-lubricated bearings.
Installation and fitting of Simplex BlueRun bearings is straightforward, with options available in both unsplit and split versions. The non-split version uses a flat key attached to a support bushing, offering protection against twisting, while the split version has a pair of tapered keys that provide tension and rotation protection. These solutions can be used on all types of water-lubricated stern tube systems, whether freshwater or saltwater, open or closed, and are compatible with shaft diameters up to 650 mm.
The success of the Simplex BlueRun has already been proven on several vessels. Since its first installation on a research vessel operating in coastal regions of the North and Baltic Seas, the solution has been adopted by a wide variety of vessels, including harbor ferries operating in demanding conditions and facing waters with heavy sediments. In addition, the low operating noise of the bearings makes the Simplex BlueRun ideal for passenger vessels, providing a smoother and more comfortable experience.
In short, Simplex BlueRun bearings make an important contribution to promoting the environmental credentials of ship owners and operators. By replacing oil-based lubricants with water, this innovative solution contributes to cleaner oceans by reducing the carbon footprint of vessels and eliminating the risks associated with oil spills. In addition, it provides financial benefits to customers by simplifying maintenance operations and reducing oil storage and discharge costs. With Simplex BlueRun bearings, sustainability and operational efficiency go hand in hand in the shipping industry.
The PartYard and SKF Marine partnership provides a wide range of services, from sales and installation to maintenance and repairs. As a team, they are able to meet all their customers needs with quality, speed, and efficiency.
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