The humble ball bearing is a key component of nearly every device with moving parts, taking advantage of the vastly reduced friction you can achieve when rolling a ball between two surfaces as opposed to sliding them across one another. Now, a Japanese company has come up with a simple design that removes a key component from a typical bearing – the cage that keeps the balls separated as they roll around. Coo Space's Autonomous Decentralised Bearings don't need to be greased, and according to their inventor, this fact alone can reduce their friction by up to 90 percent compared with standard bearings.
This simple change could save Billions of dollars a year in automotive applications alone by reducing the rolling friction in wheel bearings that would result in better fuel mileage.
When I first started working out of High School I went to work in the construction industry working around heavy equipment and the majority of my job was walking around with a grease gun in my hand pumping grease into bearings all day.
I would literally be covered in grease by the end of the day so I am intimately familiar with several different types of bearings and bushings.
Anyone who has ever had a wheel bearing on their boat or travel trailer seize up and weld its self to the spindle should be rejoicing right about now too. I have had to cut a few of those off in my day.
The implications of this new bearing design and the reduced operating costs for just about anything with moving parts can not be overstated. The Big Oil companies will be gnashing their teeth though. Grease sales will plummet.
This video is a bit hard to understand as Japanese does not lend its self too well to translation into English but pay attention to the small groove they are talking about and watch how much longer this new bearing spins compared to the ones in use today.(2:45 mark)
( There is no sound for about a minute and a half)
Go read the rest at Gizmag.