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`Green` bearings contain 54% vegetable oil

21 October, 2011

The German plastic bearings specialist igus has developed a wear-resistant plain bearing containing 54% sustainable and natural raw materials. The polymer used for the new iglidur N54 plain bearing is made mainly of castor oil, rather than the crude oil usually used in plastic bearings. The bearing is aimed at low-load applications.

"The introduction of our iglidur N54 biopolymer marks the first serious step towards ‘green bearings’,” says igus UK director, Matt Aldridge. “The biopolymer is made from crop oil instead of crude oil – you can’t eat it, and it’s not biodegradable – but it is an industry first for a technical polymer.”

The new material is both lubricant- and maintenance free. In-house test results show that it has good wear resistance properties for loads up to 2MPa.

The bearings have a low weight compared to metallic versions, reducing energy consumption. The average density of the iglidur plastics is 1.4 g/cm3. Aluminium weighs twice as much, and steel 5.5 times as much.

Because the bearings do not need any oil and grease, they cannot release any contaminants into the environment. Furthermore, the energy needed to produce the plastics is said to significantly less than that for metals.

The European Bioplastics Association predicts that the global production capacity for biopolymers will rise from around 700,000 tonnes in 2010 to about 1.7 million tonnes by 2015.

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