Introduction to Tribology

Role of Tribology in Energy Efficiency

Tribology is particularly important in today's world because so much energy is lost to friction in mechanical components. To use less energy, we need to minimize the amount that is wasted. Significant energy is lost due to friction in sliding interfaces. Therefore, finding ways to minimize friction and wear through new technologies in tribology is critical to a greener and more sustainable world.

Global energy consumption is expected to grow in upcoming years, straining both resources and the environment. At the same time, a huge amount of energy is lost to friction: for example, seven quads of energy are wasted annually due to friction in passenger cars globally1. Further waste occurs due to wear of contacting materials, as the energy required to replace parts is substantial2, and the economic, environmental, and safety costs of wear-induced failures can be extensive3. Moreover, many of the challenges facing new energy-efficient technologies - such as wind turbines - are tribological in nature4. Therefore, tribology is critically important to addressing some of the world's key issues related to energy efficiency and the economic and societal implications of energy usage.




[1] Holmberg, K., Andersson, P. and Erdemir, A. Global Energy Consumption Due to Friction in Passenger Cars. Tribology International 47, 221-234 (2012).

[2] EIA. 1994 Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS). Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC. (1997).

[3] Jost, H.P. Tribology Micro Macro Economics: A Road to Economic Savings. Tribology and Lubrication Technology 61, 18-22 (2005).

[4] Sheng, S., Oyague, F. and Butterfield, C.P. Investigation of Various Wind Turbine Drive Train Condition Monitoring Techniques. (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2010).

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