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Schaeffler's lightweight balancer shaft receives PACE Award for lowering CO2 emissions

Schaeffler's lightweight balancer shaft receives PACE Award for lowering CO2 emissions
The Schaeffler Group's lightweight balancer shaft with rolling bearing supports has won the PACE Award in the "Product" category for outstanding innovation.

Presented annually since 1994 by Automotive News magazine in conjunction with audit and consulting firm Ernst & Young and the Transportation Research Center (TRC), the PACE Award honours outstanding product innovations from automotive suppliers.

The international jury's focus this year was on Schaeffler's lightweight balancer shaft with rolling bearing supports used in modern internal combustion engines. "This award for the lightweight balancer shaft with rolling bearing supports demonstrates the significance of innovative detailed work," said Dr. Peter Pleus, President of Schaeffler Group Automotive.

"Modern technologies, innovative products and lightweight designs are amongst the key factors that make a significant contribution towards the optimisation of drive trains with internal combustion engines. For Schaeffler, this latest recognition with the PACE Award for us is a valuable confirmation of our innovative strength which is so highly appreciated by our customers." 
Lightweight balancer shafts with rolling bearing supports contribute to reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, whilst increasing driver comfort. The system is just one of many innovations from Schaeffler which are helping to downsize and downspeed engines.
The balancer shaft's low friction rolling bearing supports results in a significant improvement in energy efficiency compared to the conventional plain bearings. For example, the power consumed internally in a four-cylinder diesel engine already in volume production is reduced by up to 1.5kW (2.0hp). Furthermore, the use of rolling bearing supports significantly reduces the requirement for engine oil cooling and eliminates the need for pressure lubrication. These characteristics, in combination with the design's superior emergency running properties, make lightweight balancer shafts with rolling bearing supports ideal for engines with start-stop systems.

The rolling bearing supports also enable a new, weight-optimised layout of the balancer shafts with a mass that is reduced by around one third. This means that the two balancer shafts mounted in an engine, which run at twice crankshaft speed due to the design, reduce engine weight by more than 1kg. The filigree design minimises the shaft's rotational inertia, which, in turn, reduces the driving forces required.
Dr. Peter Solfrank, Schaeffler Product Application Manager Rolling Bearings and Balancer Shafts, accepted the award presented in Detroit, USA, during the SAE Congress (Society of Automotive Engineers). He commented: "As the optimisation of internal combustion engines becomes increasingly important, the topic of rolling bearing supports in the engine is also increasingly moving into focus. It still has potential for improving the energy efficiency in classic drive trains." 
The lightweight balancer shaft with rolling bearing supports celebrated its premiere in Daimler's OM 651 four-cylinder diesel engine, which was awarded Engine of the Year in 2009. The balancer shafts of other modern engines such as Fiat's two-cylinder 'TwinAir' engine, which received this year's Engine of the Year award, are now also equipped with rolling bearing supports from Schaeffler. In 2010, the lightweight balancer shaft with rolling bearing supports won the Steel Innovation Prize.

To date, Schaeffler has been nominated five times for the PACE Award and won a distinction once again this year. Other nominated or winning innovations from Schaeffler are its LuK dry double clutch and hybrid damper, as well as the FAG wheel bearing with face spline and angular contact Twin Tandem bearing for rear axle drives.

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