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SKF bearings help provide robust protection for the River Thames

SKF bearings help provide robust protection for the River Thames
SKF has supplied a series of bearings for a major pumping system serving London's Lee Tunnel. The bearings meet critical performance demands in an exceptionally high profile installation, proving again that SKF can provide solutions in the toughest applications. The pumps will redirect as much as 2.9 million gallons of water per hour into the Lee Tunnel to protect London's 150-year-old Victorian sewer network, which can no longer accommodate the volume of sewage and rainwater. Billions have been invested in the project to prevent London's growing population from sewage overflow and with the success of the project so critical only the most reliable and robust solutions have been selected.

The 54-ton pumps were the largest wastewater pumps ever made by GIW Industries, known worldwide as a leader in the design, manufacture and application of heavy duty, centrifugal slurry pumps. These pumps will be essential in preventing 39 million tons of sewage and storm water from overflowing into the River Thames every year. The pumps not only need to be able to process major flows of wastewater, but also be capable of withstanding the contamination and wear of foreign bodies contained in the sewage. So, GIW needed an extremely robust bearing solution that can cope with extreme and widely variable loads.

"SKF's bearings prove that they can provide solutions for the toughest applications and meet critical performance demands in an exceptionally high profile installation. We are extremely happy to have such a longstanding relationship with GIW, which has proven to be very successful" said Rolando Acevedo, SKF Application Engineer.

"Our experience with the quality of SKF bearings and the technical support provided by SKF engineers has been outstanding. Given the importance of this project and the demand for long term reliability, with pumps mounted 80 meters underground, GIW specified that only SKF bearings should be used," said Robert Visintainer, VP Engineering for GIW.

SKF spherical roller thrust bearings (29468 E) were used to support main thrust loads, with SKF tapered roller bearings (32256 J2) supporting radial load at the drive end of the shaft as well as any reverse thrust loads, and SKF spherical roller bearings (24080) bearings supporting radial load at the impeller end of the shaft. The SKF bearings provide heavy duty, high quality components for the pumps to handle the demanding loads and reliability demands of the application. These pumps are mounted in a remote location 85 meters below ground, which means servicing the pumps would be a major undertaking in itself, but the tough SKF bearings minimise the likelihood of expensive downtime. 

SKF has also produced four SKF CircOil Systems for the project and received a further order for two additional units. SKF CircOil units contain a unique accumulator run-down hydraulic circuit that protects the bearings in the event of power failure for two additional minutes so that the main pumps can be safely stopped without bearing damage. This was vital in the Lee Tunnel installation due to the pumps being located so deep below ground.

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