Tribology in renewable energy

Resources | Free Full-Text | Exploring Renewable Energy Resources Using Remote Sensing and GIS—A Review


Renewable energies and their technologies are the essential components for developing sustainable energy generation for the future. There are different ways technical difficulties are involved in these techniques which involve mechanical failures. The friction and wear losses in the machinery contribute to enormous loss of energy and further, it leads to the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere causing global warming. The use of renewable energies can reduce overall energy consumption through non-renewable resources such as mineral oils, coal, etc. Further, the usage of renewable energies can also decrease the amount of CO2 emission thus improving the tribology of the machinery involved with renewable energy generation is important. There are various ways of generating energy using renewable sources and the knowledge of tribology is applied in very few which include wind power turbines, tidal power turbines, and geothermal power plants. In this section let us discuss one by one and understand the role of tribology in these sectors.

Resources | Free Full-Text | Exploring Renewable Energy Resources Using Remote Sensing and GIS—A Review

Fig-1 Various forms of renewable energies [1]

Tribology in wind power turbines

Wind energy is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy across the world, however, there are various problems involved in the operation and maintenance of these turbines. The premature failure of the components causes an increased maintenance cost and decreased operation time. There are various mechanical devices that should be well maintained to avoid failure and one such device is the gearbox of the wind turbine. The gearbox of wind turbines has bearings in its composition which causes the gearbox failure most of the time. Hence studying the bearing properties and its lubrication is one of the important scopes for tribology in wind turbines. Bearings are also used in other components of a wind turbine such as the main shaft, yaw system, pitch system, and generators. They are used to provide physical support to the drivetrain and reduce the friction and wear at those attachments in the wind turbine. There are various kinds of failures involved in wind turbine bearings and they are scuffing, micro pitting, electric discharge, and fretting wear. These failure mechanisms should be studied to understand the solution through various tribological solutions such as lubrication, surface modification, etc [2].

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Fig-2 Wind turbine corrosion [3]

Tribology in tidal power turbines

Tidal energy is one of the most persistent and predictable renewable energy sources, however, the aggressive marine environment creates a barrier to developing tidal power generation. There are various tribological problems that arise in tidal turbine blades and it is due to the interaction of different solid particles present in the marine environment. The turbine blades fail due to many reasons such as solid particle erosion, cavitation, and erosion at the surface, high thrust loading at the turbine blade tips, etc. tribological aspects of the materials used in these turbine blades should be studied to increase the efficiency of power generation. The materials used should satisfy various conditions such as good mechanical properties, corrosion resistance, withstand extreme environmental conditions, etc [4].

6-Month Fouling Records on Tidal Energy Turbine | Race Rocks Ecological Reserve-

Fig-3 Tidal blade corrosion [5]

Tribology in geothermal energy plants

The exploration of geothermal energies has increased its phase in the past decade, this is one of the effective forms of renewable energies. There are various tribological challenges faced in this energy generation such as corrosion and wear in the materials used. The operation conditions of these materials in these geothermal systems are very high hence there is a need for selecting the materials that can withstand these temperature conditions. The tribological properties of these materials can be improved by modifying the surface using techniques such as surface coatings. To modify these surfaces, there is a need for understanding their material and tribological properties such as corrosion, erosion, etc [6].

Corrosion in Geothermal Systems - Warstek Popular Science


Fig-4 Corrosion in geothermal pipes [7]


[1] Avtar, R., Sahu, N., Aggarwal, A.K., Chakraborty, S., Kharrazi, A., Yunus, A.P., Dou, J. and Kurniawan, T.A., 2019. Exploring renewable energy resources using remote sensing and GIS—A review. Resources8(3), p.149.

[2] Dhanola, A. and Garg, H.C., 2020. Tribological challenges and advancements in wind turbine bearings: A review. Engineering Failure Analysis118, p.104885.


[4] Rasool, G., Johnstone, C. and Stack, M.M., 2016, October. Tribology of tidal turbine blades: impact angle effects on erosion of polymeric coatings in sea water conditions. Asian Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (AWTEC).


[6] Nakashima, Y., Umehara, N., Kousaka, H., Tokoroyama, T., Murashima, M. and Mori, D., 2023. Carbon-based coatings for suppression of silica adhesion in geothermal power generation. Tribology International177, p.107956.



I am currently working as a Postgraduate Researcher at the University of Leeds, where I am actively involved in research activities. Prior to this, I successfully completed my master's degree through the renowned Erasmus Mundus joint program, specializing in Tribology and Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from VTU in Belgaum, India. Further I handle the social media pages for Tribonet and I have my youtube channel Tribo Geek.

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