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More than 1,000 high-precision plain bearing rod ends from Schaeffler are enabling the efficient operation of the Andasol solar power plants in southern Spain.

The Andasol 1 solar power plant uses a total of 1,248 Elges hydraulic rod ends from Schaeffler.

The function of the bearings is to support several hundred hydraulically adjustable, parabolic troughs, positioning them with millimetre precision and ensuring that the troughs continuously follow the sun.

The rod ends are therefore directly responsible for the plant’s overall efficiency and economic viability.

Schaeffler’s Power Generation Sector has developed bearing solutions for renewable energy projects, including solar and hydroelectric power plants.

In these types of projects, plain bearings are optimised for the slow, precise swivel motion.

It is critical that these movements are smooth, without any stick slip or jolting on startup.

At the same time, the hydraulic rod ends can support high forces and are suitable for alternating loads.

This means that the 150m-long collector chains can be adjusted precisely to within a tenth of a millimetre, enabling the troughs to follow the sun.

The hydraulic rod ends are fitted with manganese phosphate-coated radial spherical plain bearings with steel/steel sliding contact surfaces.

This surface treatment improves the running-in characteristics and reduces friction.

The inner ring of the spherical plain bearing has a width of 70mm, a cylindrical bore diameter of 110mm and a spherical outer slideway.

The 160mm diameter outer ring has a cylindrical outer surface and a concave inner slideway with a diameter of 140mm.

Schaeffler also provided 7,488 environmentally friendly (lead-free) plain bearing strips for the Andasol 1 plant.

These strips are mounted in the supports between the individual segments of the 150m collector chains, ensuring smooth slewing movements during the tracking of the sun.

In addition to developing bearing solutions for solar and hydroelectric power plants, Schaeffler is also working closely with developers of the latest wind, tidal and wave-energy systems.

The Power Generation Sector at Schaeffler also develops bearing solutions for dams, wind-turbine gearboxes, conventional energy generation and power-transmission systems.

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