Image via Mahle

Image via Mahle

Mahle Engine Components has developed a lead-free bearing system for heavy-duty truck engines,  engineered with polymeric coatings for better wear resistance to help engine manufacturers deal with new low-viscosity engine oils.

The new system is designed to improve performance over existing bearing linings that include lead. The polymer technology was already in use in the light- and medium-duty markets for engines under 10L. Mahle adapted the technology for loaded bearings in heavy-duty applications, reflecting changes in bearing operating conditions and a market need for alternative solutions, according to the company.

Compared to lead-free bearings with electroplated coatings, the polymer-coated bearings offer increased resistance to wear and fatigue, according to Mahle.  Polymer-coated crankshaft main bearings and connecting rod bearings are also improved over electroplated leaded bearings.

Removing lead from the bearing also improves corrosion resistance and allows for extended oil-drain intervals. Lead-free bearings are also more environmentally friendly and easier to dispose of.

The first engines to use Mahle’s polymeric lead-free bearings will appear in new vehicles during the second half of 2016. The company is also developing programs for additional applications with two more major engine manufacturers.

"Our new bearing system provides a great combination of proven cast-bronze bearing technology with a polymer overlay that features high load capabilities, as well as seizure and wear resistance," said Joachim Wagenblast, head of product development for MAHLE Engine Components USA.