An eco-impact design metric for water lubricated bearings based on anticipatory Life Cycle Assessment

More Info


Water lubricated bearings have been named in literature as a sustainable alternative to their oil-based counterparts. In order to clarify when water lubricated bearings are or are not a sustainable alternative, and inform design decisions, an analytical design tool is introduced based on anticipatory Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This model is based on data from the bearing geometries, materials, and material combinations that have been the subject of research attention in the past 20 years in water lubricated bearing design. The model provides simple equations, fed with data from literature on materials, production and their tribological combination to provide initial insight on the sustainability of these types of bearings and future designs. A case study illustrates that quantifying environmental impacts can help determine when lubricant loss is more important than material choice, or vice-versa. The method aids bearing designers towards more sustainable designs.