December 1999

Columns

HP Reliability: Avoiding electrical damage to bearings

Major machinery often suffers bearing damage due to shaft currents. Common sources of shaft currents are electromagnetic, static charge buildup and electrical equipment related. Such damage can appear..

Bloch, Heinz P., Hydrocarbon Processing Staff

Major machinery often suffers bearing damage due to shaft currents. Common sources of shaft currents are electromagnetic, static charge buildup and electrical equipment related. Such damage can appear as frosting in bearing and seal areas (Fig. 1), pitting of shaft journal surfaces (Fig. 2), welding-like degradation of bearing shoes (Fig. 3), spark tracking on seal bushings (Fig. 4) and a host of other modes. Electromagnetic shaft currents often result from residual magnetization of rotors, casings, piping, foundations, etc. These currents are typically high, but of low voltage; they can be quite destructive. Few rotating machines are immune from developing magnetic fields, and dama

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