Solar boat moves along easily with igus bearings

Polish students use self-lubricating products in steering system

September 22, 2021 – Students in Poland have designed a solar-powered speedboat that includes high-performance motion plastics from igus in the assembly’s steering system.

Called Solaris, the students from Wroclaw installed self-lubricating and maintenance-free bearings from igus in the autonomous speedboat. The bearings provide the necessary stability, reduce the boat’s weight and ensure lubrication-free use. igus, the Germany-based manufacturer of motion plastics, runs its North American operations out of Providence, R.I.

Ecological vehicles that feature low operating costs and high efficiency are in greater demand than ever. The Solaris I project is being implemented by the PWr Solar Boat Team under the auspices of the Faculty of Mechanical and Power Engineering. The young engineers are relying entirely on photovoltaic cells to ensure environmentally friendly propulsion.

The project encompasses boat development, construction and implementation. One important part of the project is the computerized steering system and enhancement of boat movement, much like the fly-by-wire system used in aviation. The design engineers were seeking plain bearings that were required to be self-lubricating, resistant to seawater, mechanically robust and easy to assemble. The solution: iglide plain bearings from igus.

Efficient and fast solar boat

Wroclaw, located on the Odra River, is the nation’s fourth-largest city and frequently referred to as the “City of 100 Bridges.” Many people also cite the city as the “Poland Venice”, as the river and its tributaries meander around 12 islands within the city. The region provides the perfect proving ground for the project.

As part of the students’ scientific and research activities, the PWr Solar Boat Team sought to develop a boat powered by photovoltaic panels. The boat “will not only be efficient and fast,’’ it wrote on its website, “but also safe and eye-catching in design.”

The double flange bearings made of iglide J high-performance polymer are used in the yoke’s steering system. “igus bearings ensure long service life. They reduce overall system weight, eliminate lubricants and are easy to install,’’ said Dominika Dewor of the PWr Solar Boat Team.

The iglide J bearings offer high wear resistance on almost all shafts and are extremely versatile and durable. They are typically used in vending machines, printers, aviation, beverage production and packaging and cleanroom applications. The bearings are designed for the lowest coefficients of friction while running dry and have low stick-slip tendency.

The team’s project was sponsored by the igus young engineers support (yes) program. The university initiative supports school and university student projects with free samples, sponsorship and consultations.

Take a look at the boat in action:

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