Tackling Energy waste through Sustainable Tribology

18.12.2023
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In recent decades, the focus on sustainability has intensified among designers and tribologists, making energy conservation and sustainability as an important areas of research. In today’s context, energy plays a central role in nearly every human activity, impacting various aspects of our lives, from the economic and environmental to the technical and social realms. The widespread use of gadgets in our daily routines has led to increased carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions, underscoring the urgent need for a more sustainable approach to energy consumption. This evolution has prompted a significant shift in the priorities of both tribologists and system designers towards developing solutions that address the challenges posed by energy usage in contemporary society.

Designers aspire to create systems that have minimal environmental impact. Recent research has particularly focused on reducing energy losses caused by friction, or wear, which can otherwise compromise the efficiency of systems. Another critical area of concern for environmentalists, designers, and tribologists involves a thorough examination of technological parameters with significant environmental implications. Researchers are actively developing methodologies aimed at completely eliminating or substantially reducing the adverse effects caused by these parameters. This collective effort seeks to address environmental challenges and contribute to the creation of more sustainable solutions.

Our research - Department of Materials Science and Engineering - Uppsala University, Sweden

Fig-1 Tribology research for achieving sustainability

Tribology holds significant potential in the global effort to minimize carbon emissions, addressing both economic and environmental considerations. The concept of green Tribology encompasses the science and technology of understanding the ecological balance and environmental and biological impacts of tribological aspects. A crucial aspect of achieving tribological sustainability involves the development and implementation of biodegradable tribo-materials. In a related context, research on tribotronics emphasizes its role in the design and development of tribotronic-based systems, contributing valuable insights to sustainable technological solutions. Furthermore, studies on tribological aspects of renewable energy sources, such as wind and tidal turbines, not only explore technical considerations but also underscore the pivotal role of design and durability in large-scale engineering systems from a sustainability perspective. The convergence of these studies highlights the multifaceted nature of tribology in promoting environmentally conscious practices and advancements.

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A proposed sustainable product design model emphasizes the evaluation of environmental, social, and economic impacts. In the field of Tribology, research explores entropy-related concepts, addressing dissipative friction and wear applications like adhesion, chemical reactions, tribo concepts, and phase transformations. This research underscores the role of entropic methods in tackling fundamental issues in friction and wear, as well as in the innovation of new materials. To reduce energy losses in engineering caused by the weight of machine parts, efforts are underway to develop materials with a high strength-to-weight ratio while maintaining tribological performance. Furthermore, a novel tribological concept explores the analysis of friction and wear mechanisms on various biological surfaces of biomimetic organisms, providing insights for optimizing energy losses in industrial applications.

Reference

[1] Tzanakis, I., Hadfield, M., Thomas, B., Noya, S.M., Henshaw, I. and Austen, S., 2012. Future perspectives on sustainable tribology. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16(6), pp.4126-4140.

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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