SKF develops cryogenic pump solution to help boost plant reliability

The challenge

A large petrochemical plant in Western Europe was experiencing bearing failures in its cryogenic pumps. The high RPM pumps were submerged in and used to pump –100 °C liquid ethylene through start-stop cycles, 24/7. Poor lubrication was causing severe damage to bearing components, leading inevitably to failure.

The SKF solution

SKF application engineers designed a robust bearing solution able to stand up to the harsh, contaminated operating conditions of medium-lubricated cryogenic pumps. The solution features a bearing constructed with VC4444, a specially heat-treated variant of SKF super-tough stainless steel, deep groove ball bearings with low friction ceramic rolling elements, and a single piece, glass fiber reinforced PEEK cage. Dubbed the SKF cryogenic pump solution, it was installed on two of the facility’s cryogenic pumps.

The result

After more than two years in service that included regular vibration monitoring performed by plant staff, the SKF cryogenic pump solution bearings were still performing well, with no signs of damage. For an initial investment of €7 000 per pump, the plant is expected to achieve a 428% return on investment for each installation of the SKF cryogenic pump solution after the first year.
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