18 May, 2024

SKF bearings help Lontra compressor reduce energy consumption by over 20 per cent

17 August, 2016

A new compressed air system is using SKF tapered roller bearings, which are helping to keep energy, carbon dioxide and noise emissions to a minimum.


Compressed air is used throughout industry, with the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) estimating that 70 per cent of all companies use it in their operations. Indeed, the global market for air compressors is valued at more than £20 billion per year.

Although there have been ongoing improvements made to existing compressor designs over the years, for over half a century there wasn’t a true innovation in compressed air systems. However, thanks to Lontra’s new Blade Compressor this is no longer the case.

Midlands-based technology developer Lontra has designed and manufactured an innovative new compressor that delivers high performance while minimising wastage and saving energy.

Lontra’s Blade Compressor is a step change in air compressor technology, best imagined as a piston and cylinder, but with the piston wrapped into a ring doughnut shape. Whereas previous attempts by the industry to achieve system improvements may have improved efficiency by a few per cent, this new design has been proven to make systems more than 20 per cent more efficient.

In its short life so far the Lontra Blade Compressor has been acknowledged by many within the engineering industry. So far it has earned the Water Sustainability Award for Innovation in 2013, Best New Product Award at the Environment and Energy Awards 2015 and one of the first investments from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Stephenson LP fund, which has been introduced to back companies developing cutting-edge UK technologies that are “likely to be useful to the world”.

Business need

Because the Blade Compressor was a new technology and operated differently to existing compressed air systems, there were a number of specific factors that had to be considered when specifying bearings.

The Blade Compressor operates in a continuous motion at high speed, so the bearings had to provide true rolling and low friction – keeping thermal energy and noise emissions to a minimum.

Because of the high speeds, the bearings also had to be manufactured to a high quality to ensure long life. Any energy savings achieved by customers would be irrelevant if the Blade Compressor experienced unscheduled downtime due to bearing wear leading to failure. This means bearings must be manufactured using strong, reliable materials with tight tolerances.


Following discussions with Lontra and having analysed the inner workings of the Blade Compressor, SKF tapered roller bearings were specified, of which two are installed in each compressor.

SKF tapered roller bearings comply with both ISO and ANSI/ABMA standards and deliver a number of proven performance benefits that made them the ideal solution for the Blade Compressor. This includes: longer service life compared with the market average; high load-carrying capacity; low operating temperatures; and exceptionally low vibration and noise levels.

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