How To Get More Life Out of Your Motor By Using PFPE Grease
It wasn’t until recently that loose-ball bearings within rolling parts of the engine were replaced by sealed-cartridge bearings. The reason for this being that once the grease or lubricant inside the sealed bearing evaporated or wore out, the whole bearing assembly would be rendered useless. What a waste. So as you can imagine, the majority of engines or motors with over 2-horsepower would be set up using loose-ball or shielded bearings so that they could be easily serviced once the grease, lube or bearings themselves wore out.
With that said, greasing bearings and other elements of the motor is labor intensive and takes a high level of expertise. It’s important to apply just the right amount of grease as too much can inhibit the bearings ability to roll and too little won’t do a good enough job of protecting the bearings. Even when serviced correctly, conventional greases tend to wear out prematurely and require frequent servicing if you want to really get the most out of your engine and its components. However, if you use PFPE grease, your bearings will require much less maintenance and they’ll be even better protected.
First introduced in the early 2000’s, PFPE grease (perflouropolyether) are non-flammable and optimized for high temperatures (as well as extremely low temperatures), making them the ideal grease for use in motors, engines and wheel bearings. PFPE greases are also completely inert and non-reactive to other chemicals or solvents, which means that the grease will last and last and last. What’s more, perflouropolyether-based lubricants will never oxidize or thicken during freezing temperatures as you’ve probably experienced with other greases, nor will they be displaced by water or steam. PFPE greases are also free from chlorinated compounds and VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
So, just how much more effective is PFPE grease? Here are the numbers
A large pulp and paper mill in Western Canada recently switched the grease in their electric motors for a conventional lithium grease to PFPE and noticed some great changes. Not only was it becoming expensive and time-intensive to regularly re-lubricate all 3,000 of their motors with lithium grease, it was also affecting their efficiency during the down-time of these motors. As you can see in this diagram below (plantservices.com), the PFPE grease didn’t fail even after over 25,000 hours of use!
A little background: the motor bearings within this paper mill were equipped with both same-side and cross flow grease reservoirs with both single-shield and dual-shielded bearings. Certain bearings were oriented opposite-facing of the grease reservoirs and others were either not ideally oriented or were not close to drain plugs.
Since there was no standard set in order to orient or regularly grease these bearings, the factory found that these electric motors would last them no longer than 4-6 years, with the vast majority of breakdowns attributed to bearing failure. Not only did the downtime cost them overtime pay and the price of new components, they also took this as a necessary evil until learning about PFPE grease.
After converting the entire mill’s motors to bearings greased with PFPE, they didn’t have to replace a single engine or bearing system. While the price of PFPE is indeed more expensive than lithium grease, the benefits quickly pay for themselves. Each motor this mill had to replace was costing them upwards of $4,000. So as you can see, PFPE greases are ideal for use where performance is of the essence.