A symbiosis of technology and nature

June 28. 2012

A symbiosis of technology and nature

The Dutch Oosterschelde Storm Surge Barrier celebrated its 25th anniversary.

A length of 9 kilometres, 62 gigantic sluice gates, 124 towering hydraulic cylinders, 620 large spherical bearings and 14 tons of specialty lubricant for lubricating and sealing that have been fullfilling their function without complaint for 25 years now. The gigantic storm surge barrier at the Dutch Oosterschelde Estuary protects land and people from the North Sea. This building required a lot of courage from the Dutch - which has payed off. In close cooperation with high-performing European companies, a notable, innovative solution with durability guarantee was developed - totally different from what the original plans for a non-ecofriendly dam had envisaged.

Oosterschelde - Klüber Lubrication

The disastrous storm surge in 1953 was a traumatic event for the Netherlands that required action. Without the barrier the Netherlands would have been at risk of being flooded by the water of the North Sea over and over again. The barrier finally put an end to that threat. The heavy sluice gates of the Oosterschelde Storm Surge Barrier had to be closed several times over the past 25 years and the masterpiece of engineering always withstood easily.

Furthermore, the barrier can also be used when it has just rained too much and the inland side is flooded. The water can be pumped out easily from this side of the barrier. And there's even more to it: An ultramodern structure and a new nature reserve exist in harmonious symbiosis. The natural tides ensure the livelihood of mussels and oyster breeders while providing ideal waters for wind surfing.

This all-around success confirms the decisions that were made back then and make a great occasion to celebrate for the Deltawerken, the Dutch Water Authority, the Swedish rolling bearing manufacturer SKF and the German lubrication specialist Klüber Lubrication. A successful cooperation that will continue for a long time.

Back then Klüber Lubrication delivered the right specialty lubricant for the bearings made by SKF. Numerous tests and investigations of different types of lubricants had preceded the decision. But in the end the grease from Klüber Lubrication attained the best results. And today, 25 years on from then, the lubricant still keeps what it promised: optimum lubrication and sealing of the components that are exposed to enormous stresses and strains as well as to aggressive salt water. For the operating company the decision for Klüber Lubrication was worth a mint, so to speak, because over the past 25 years the lubricant neither had to be exchanged nor replenished. "You cannot just pump out the old grease and pump in the new one. Everything would have to be completely dismantled", as Piet Maljaars from the Dutch Water Authority explains. "The cost would be immense."

The Dutch are real masters of water engineering. At the Oosterschelde, necessity was not only the mother of invention but also of success. And the Dutch were clever enough to always opt for the best know-how they could find - that way, with the Oosterschelde Storm Surge Barrier they created a real European masterpiece.

Read more in this interview: Piet Maljaars, Cluster Coordinator at the Rijkswaterstaat (Dutch Water Authority), Erik-Jan Driessen from Klüber Lubrication, as well as Ellis van den Hout from SKF Netherlands and Peter Schmehr from SKF Germany shared fascinating insights on the past cooperation, the present performance of the storm surge barrier and prospects for the future.