GERMANY: SOLGLIDE T and SOLGLIDE M families of bearings, launched by Saint-Gobain Solar, reduce the costs of initial investment, operations and maintenance for solar tracking systems in solar power plants. The bearings will be showcased at the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (26th EU PVSEC), 5-8 September, in Hamburg, Germany, Booth B7/B42.
Both types of bearings reduce friction and wear by 50 percent compared to other models on the market, maintaining the tracking performance of actuating systems over the lifespan of the bearing. Besides offering enhanced performance and cost and labour savings, the SOLGLIDE T and SOLGLIDE M bearings enable solar companies to reduce their carbon footprint by locally sourcing components from one of Saint-Gobain’s production facilities in their region.
Friction at the pivot point of the actuators can impair the accuracy and efficiency of solar tracking systems. Saint-Gobain’s SOLGLIDE T and SOLGLIDE M contain non-corrosive, durable materials, which help minimise the higher levels of friction that can occur over the lifetime of the bearing. Without the build-up of friction, the motion of the actuators is not limited, ensuring higher levels of accuracy in tracking and less manual labour required to adjust the actuators to counter-act additional resistance.
Free of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and heavy metals, SOLGLIDE T and SOLGLIDE M bearings are designed with a unique fluoropolymer to be chemically resistant and self-lubricating. One-hundred percent weather-proof, they perform under a wide temperature range (between -200°C and 260°C) and exhibit no corrosion or loss of integrity under ultraviolet (UV) light.
“In setting out to design a long-lasting, non-corrosive and more sustainable bearing for solar applications, we took into consideration the other pain points of solar plant maintenance,” said Janaki Weiden, SOLGLIDE manager, Saint-Gobain Solar. “These were issues such as labour and costs that can result from long-term wear and we equipped the SOLGLIDE T and the SOLGLIDE M to tackle these issues in different ways.”
What differentiates the SOLGLIDE T from the SOLGLIDE M bearings are their uses and other material components. The SOLGLIDE M family of bearings comes standard at 1.57 mm thick with all stainless steel backings, providing an economical and sustainable solution for applications requiring long-time durability and load requirements in challenging environments.
The stainless steel material provides superior corrosion resistance and load capability, enabling Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors to construct the actuator with a smaller shaft to save on material costs.
SOLGLIDE T bearings are available with a 1.5 mm thick steel backing, in which the sliding layer is a proprietary polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) based compound.
The SOLGLIDE T model is also available with a 3 mm thick aluminium backing, offering an easy “drop in” solution as well as superior structure capability when paired with aluminium frames. This prevents the challenges presented by bearings composed of other, less compatible materials which can react with the aluminium to speed corrosion or require changes in the actuator design to account for different coefficients of thermal expansion.
Dimensions of the bearings are customisable and Saint-Gobain experts will work with manufacturers to determine which sizes work best for their particular applications. Saint-Gobain Solar also offers product testing capabilities to ensure that the bearings will function flawlessly in the given application.