What’s New in Belt and Chain Technology?

What’s New in Belt and Chain Technology?

Here are the latest product and industry news items involving belts and chains in the power transmission market. Please visit www.powertransmission.com for updates, new releases and articles relevant to belts, belt drives, chains and chain drives.

ContiTech Timing Belts Drive Water Taxis in Venice

Panaromablick auf Venedig Panorama mit Canal Grande

Clean air for Venice – this is the target vision for the 550 water taxis plying the city’s lagoon and canals, using high-performance hybrid drives. The unit, developed by REAPsystems in the U.K., is a simple drop-in retrofit for the boats, which are in operation for up to 20 hours a day and generate corresponding levels of exhaust emissions and noise.

“The automotive industry is turning to environmentally friendly drives. It is only logical to further advance this development in marine applications,” explains Barrie Oldham, sales manager for industrial products at the ContiTech Power Transmission Group in England. “For the prototype of the hybrid drive, we are contributing our Synchrochain Carbon drive belt. Thanks to its carbon tension member, it offers up to five times more power than conventional belts with the same construction width. Accordingly, a clearly narrower belt can be used for the same required performance. The width can be reduced by up to 80 percent.”

That enables compact, lightweight drives, such as the hybrid propulsion unit for Venice.

The concept is simple: When the taxis are traveling at low speed on the city’s canals, the clean, silent electric motor is used. For longer distances, for example when operating in the lagoon or going to and from the airport, the diesel engine takes over. This accelerates the boat to higher speeds, while at the same time charging the lithium-ion battery of the electric motor, which then functions as a generator.

In this way, the engineers aim to significantly reduce the water taxis’ noise and exhaust emissions, which represent a considerable nuisance to the residents, as well as harming the fabric of the historic buildings. Furthermore, the hybrid drive halves the boats’ diesel consumption and cuts maintenance costs. The new unit is to be unveiled in Venice later this year and then exhaustively tested in endurance trials.

“We hope to be able to convince the local authorities of the benefits of our drive solution for the environment so that the hybrid technology becomes the standard for the water taxis,” says engineer Dr. Dennis Doerffel, chief technology officer at REAPsystems, in light of the local authorities’ efforts to cut the emissions of motorized vessels by means of new regulations.

The new drive was part-financed by crowdfunding. Donors had the option of attending the trials in Southampton, U.K. “We are involving the public so that we can jointly kick-start the marine hybrid revolution,” says Doerffel.

In addition to private donors, the CTO has also acquired numerous companies as sponsors. These include TransDev U.K., ContiTech’s U.K. sales partner, which supplied REAPsystems with belt pulleys, among other things, for the electric motor.

One of the features of the Synchrochain Carbon is its very high tear strength. It ensures clean, smooth and particularly reliable power transmission both at high torques and also with high dynamic loads. Thanks to its higher efficiency and quieter running and because it needs no lubrication or retensioning, the belt also offers many advantages over a chain drive, which it can replace. (http://www.contitech.us/)

Iwis Megalife Chains Reduce Maintenance Costs and Downtime

Bild 1 MEGAlife_1200

Iwis introduces Megalife-branded maintenance-free roller and conveyor chains. The special characteristics of the Megalife chains allow longer replacement intervals and reduce maintenance costs and downtimes of conveying systems. The chains are used wherever relubrication is not possible or disadvantageous, for example in dry ambient conditions and on installations with restricted maintenance access.

Megalife chains feature seamless sintered bushes made from a material developed specially for this product. For enhanced tribological properties, the bushes have been hardened and specially treated. The pin features a wear-resistant, friction-optimised surface coating, and the seamless roller has a corrosion-protected surface that is also wear-resistant. Thanks to these properties, the Megalife chains have a longer service life and greater strength than conventional low-maintenance chains. Their components are nickel-plated for corrosion protection and can be used in a temperature range from -40 to +160 °C. The maintenance-free chains can be supplied dry or with additional special lubrication to suit any application.

“Megalife maintenance-free roller and conveyor chains have a much longer service life than conventional low- or zero-maintenance roller chains. Benefits for the customer include fewer downtimes, longer replacement intervals and significantly lower maintenance costs,” explains Helmut Spell, key account manager at Iwis’ headquarters in Munich. “The chains also contribute to sustainability: they are dry, clean and environment-friendly. For the customer that means no need for manual relubrication or lubrication systems as well as lower energy and investment costs and, not least, savings in fossil resources.” (www.iwisusa.com)

Fenner Drives Offers High-Performance Power Transmission Belt


PowerTwist Drive, a new power transmission belt from Fenner Drives, does not require retensioning after installation. The new product saves time, labor and money. Because tension is optimized with PowerTwist Drive, the equipment it serves runs better and more efficiently.

Engineered to maintain optimal tension throughout the life of the belt, PowerTwist Drive is a substantial advance over both rubber V-belts and previous link belting products which suffer from tension decay.

Extensive testing conducted to track the tension decay of PowerTwist Drive versus an earlier version of the product shows that PowerTwist Drive maintained required tension through the duration of the test compared to the previous product which required links to be removed after a run-in period. In a typical plant installation, a food manufacturer with 400 rooftop ventilation fans could realize annual labor cost savings of $12.50 per unit when using PowerTwist Drive in place of the earlier PowerTwist Plus. Across all the units, that’s a saving of $5,000 per year.

PowerTwist Drive is made of high-performance polyurethane/polyester composite material. It is resistant to heat, cold, oil, grease, water and many common industrial and agricultural chemicals. It reduces vibration in the drive system by 50 percent, limiting system noise and extending bearing life.

PowerTwist Drive is installed in basically the same way as the original PowerTwist link belting. However, belt length measurement may differ somewhat. Force deflection data charts are included in the installation instructions to ensure proper tension. Like all PowerTwist products, PowerTwist Drive drops right in to existing pulley setups. (www.fennerdrives.com)


Gates Examines Worn or Failed Tensioner Issues


Many of the symptoms that indicate a problem with the serpentine belt drive system – squeal, vibration, excessive belt wear, and illumination of the “check engine” light – can be traced to a worn or failed tensioner. That’s why the tensioner is the best place to start when diagnosing trouble.

Although the tensioner appears to be a hard part, it is actually a wear part. Several internal components are subject to rates of wear similar to that of the serpentine belt itself.

The damping mechanism is made of tough thermoplastic material. Its function is to dampen tensional vibration created as each cylinder fires or when an accessory cycles on and off. Failure of this component will lead to excessive vibration and increased shock and wear to bearings and other system components – which are often much more expensive to replace.

The pivot bushing, which provides smooth pivot action and ensures proper alignment with the belt, is also made of a durable thermoplastic, but it endures millions of pivot cycles over the typical life of the belt. When this wears out, pulley alignment is lost. If it fails, adjacent metal surfaces will eventually fail as well. Gates offers DriveAlign Tensioners with patented technology, learn more here:


Categories: Editors Choice

About Author

Matthew Jaster

Matthew Jaster, Senior Editor, has a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and has 15+ years of writing and editing experience in automotive, manufacturing, engineering, law and arts and entertainment.

Write a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*