Extend agitator bearing life with diamond bearing technology

Synthetic Diamond Bearing

Industrial agitators are an essential part of many chemical and industrial processes. While these machines come in a wide range of sizes and configurations, a common maintenance item is the product-lubricated steady bearing. As the machine becomes larger and the shaft becomes longer, a product-lubricated steady bearing will be added along the shaft or at the bottom of the shaft to limit shaft movement inside the machine. Because agitators are used in some very tough environments, this steady bearing has to be able to withstand the process conditions without wearing out or failing.

Consider the experience of a petrochemical complex which had a vertical shaft running through their large industrial agitator (sometimes referred to as a process reactor). The shaft is supported at the bottom by a steady bearing. This bearing operates in the high-temperature, somewhat abrasive process fluid. The original metal bearing was failing every 3-4 months due to excessive wear, which would lead to high vibration and misalignment of the agitator shaft.

Repeatedly changing the steady bearing was a maintenance nightmare. The vessel had to be drained, cleaned, and decontaminated. Then, a maintenance technician would need to enter the vessel in order to replace the failed bearing. The entire process would take at least 2 days. During this time, production would stop, meaning that changing the bearing was not only difficult, but also very expensive.

To minimize these interventions, extending bearing life was an important objective for the maintenance team. Considering the application conditions—a combination of high temperature and abrasive particles—traditional product-lubricated bearing materials like filled-PTFE, carbon, and bronze did not inspire confidence.

After significant research, the maintenance team believed that a polycrystalline diamond bearing from US Synthetic could be the solution they were looking for. US Synthetic helped the maintenance team by designing a drop-in replacement for the agitator bearing. The bearing was installed, the agitator brought back on line, and after 3 ½ months, the agitator was still running well.

After 1 year of operation—already 3 times longer than the life of the original bearing—the maintenance team took the agitator off line to inspect the bearing. They were amazed to find the diamong bearing showing “no measureable wear.” When they calculated the overall cost and maintenance risks of replacing the old bearing, it was clear that the adoption of US Synthetic diamond bearing technology was delivering measurable cost savings and significant safety benefits.

The original installation was now many years ago. To date, the diamond bearing has been running for more than 9 years without failure.

US Synthetic diamond bearings can be considered for nearly any agitator or mixing application. Not only are polycrystalline diamond bearings extremely abrasion resistant, they also have low friction, high heat dissipation, great durability, and can be used in a broad range of chemicals and temperatures. So, if you want to increase the life of a mixer bearing, agitator bearing, reactor bearing—or nearly any other kind of product-lubricated bearing at your site, contact Boulden and we will help you with the most reliable solution possible.