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GGB self-lubricating HPM hydro bearings and HPF hydropower bearings specified for the belo monte project

Belo Monte Hydropower

May 11, 2020

Case Study


Brazil’s Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam is a complex of dams, numerous dykes and a series of canals supplying two different power stations with water.


GGB was selected to supply self-lubricating, fiber reinforced composite HPM hydro bearings and HPF bearing segments for the Belo Monte Project, based on test results approved by Norte Energia. The bearings were tested to determine their suitability for extended wicket gate service at the Belo Monte hydroelectric power plant. The project required a reliable, water and debris resistant material able to withstand the harsh 24-hour operating conditions at the dam with a minimum service life of 20 years.

Powertech Labs conducted the testing in accordance with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers specifications. Testing conditions simulated the actual operating environment of the Belo Monte dam, including the use of water from the Xingu River where it is being constructed.

The bearings were subjected to tests modified to simulate 30 years of operation rather than the standard 8 years.

The bearings performed exceptionally well, passing the dry testing conditions with minimal evidence of operating stress. With construction commencing in 2014, a contract was awarded to GGB for seven power-generating units. In addition, GGB will also supply GGB-DB® bronze bearings for 18 segment gates at the Belo Monte dam.

Significantly, it was demonstrated that the coefficient of friction and wear rate decrease as running time increases, allowing the project engineers to design the turbines with smaller servomotors. Engineers now use the essential data provided from testing when specifying self-lubricating bearings in hydropower turbines to achieve longer service life and maintenance-free operation.


GGB’s HPF and HPM materials were specifically developed for hydropower applications, providing maintenance-free operation with no additional lubrication required. Consisting of a fiberglass-reinforced, epoxy resin support layer and a sliding layer of polyester fibers with PTFE and other additives, HPF and HPM® hydro bearings are compliant with EU RoHS directive and offer many advantages, including excellent resistance to impact and corrosion, high static and dynamic load capacity, 75 % lower weight than equivalent size metallic bearings and extended service life.

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