Gregory Simmons
Gregory Simmons

Gregory Simmons

The Swedish Hydropower Center

Better Journal Bearings for Hydropower Generators

The current push towards renewable energy and minimization of environmental impact has had major effects on the hydro-electric power industry. Machines that were originally designed to be operated at a steady speed without stopping are now being accelerated, decelerated, started and stopped at a much greater frequency than their designers had ever imagined.  It goes without saying that this type of operation places much more wear and tear on the machines resulting in increased maintenance costs, unplanned stops, and machine damage, all of which are expensive both in terms of currency and environmental impact when balancing power is produced using coal.  

This is all happening in a society which is much more aware of the impacts which it makes on its surrounding environment than the society of just 20 years ago.  Even with the push for a reduction in emissions, there is also a push against production of new plants.  One way to eliminate the need for new construction is to optimize the currently existing equipment.  For example, an increase of 0.1% production from the Lule River in the north of Sweden would produce power for several thousand households, thus displacing the need for new power plants.  

With these ideas in mind, the focus of my research is to develop and explore improvements to bearings in hydropower turbines; investigating new lubricants and materials with the aim of improving operation and efficiency while at the same time reducing the environmental consequences for river systems and the environment as a whole.

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