(iLub) Engineering intelligent tribological systems for universal lubrication

At a glance

Title Engineering intelligent tribological systems for universal lubrication
Reference 2022.15609.UTA
Scientific Area Nano Materials for New Markets
Funding (PT) 49 996 EUR
Funding (US) 100 000 USD
Leading Institutions University of Coimbra, PT

University of Texas at Austin, USA

Participating Institutions
Duration 12 months
Start date April 1, 2024
End date March 31, 2025
Keywords Magnetron Sputtering; DLC-based coating; Polymeric additives; Green lubricants

How can intelligent tribological systems be used in universal lubrication?

It is urgent to solve the problem created by inadequate lubrication in the sliding regimes where the use of additives harmful to the environment are indispensable. This project is designed to develop a synergetic solution between the superficial modification of contact parts and a new additive to the lubricant, to allow efficient lubrication in any regime of sliding, always bearing in mind the environmental concerns that are an integral part of the national political strategy.

The surface modification of mechanical components with wear-resistant coatings deposited by sputtering is an efficient solution for increasing the lifetime of sliding components where solid/solid contact can exist. The association of these coatings with an oil, able to give a good response in elastohydrodynamic- and boundary-lubrication regime, could be a potential solution for universal lubrication independent of the sliding regimes. However, the currently available wear-resistant coatings are not compatible with the oil additives.

What critical challenges are intelligent tribological systems addressing?

The goal of the iLub project is twofold:

a) evaluate the friction and wear response of a class of advanced coatings, namely silver- and tungstent-alloyed DLC, lubricated with biodegradable/biobased oils containing a class of green, energy-efficient lubricant additives, namely amphiphilic copolymers;

b) develop an understanding of the interfacial interactions between Ag-/W-DLC and amphiphilic copolymers controlling the lubrication performance.

How will intelligent tribological systems optimize the universal lubrication?

To achieve the goal of the project, a multi-technique, multi-scale approach will be used. The experimental approach will rely on an integrated study that couples the growth of Ag-DLC and W-DLC, the evaluation of the lubrication performance, and the elucidation of the underpinning lubrication mechanism through the identification of the phenomena occurring at sliding interfaces.

These aspects are all intertwined, yet coordinated studies that bring together the required capabilities have been limited.

How are intelligent tribological systems contributing to nanomaterial research?

The transformative outcomes of this project will have positive impact in lubrication science in general, since they will provide guidance for the robust synthesis of BCs and alloyed DLCs with task-specific tribological properties. The project’s success is also expected to greatly enhance sustainable development through the reduction of the economic (e.g., reduced fuel expenditure) and environmental (e.g., less pollution) impact of tribology.

The outcomes of the project will attract the attention of lubricant manufacturers given the pioneering nature of the project in combinatorically designing BCs/alloyed DLCs interfaces with superior friction and wear response.

The project PIs are strongly committed to raising awareness of the socioeconomic and environmental implications of the research outcomes. Therefore, several communication actions are planned throughout project execution.

Key Expected Outcomes

  • Publications of a minimum of 2 journal articles in highly ranked international peer-reviewed journals and open-access journals;
  • Preparation of 2 Master’s theses during the project;
  • Presentation of the research results in 2 international conferences (e.g., Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers Annual Meeting);

Project Team

Fábio Ferreira

Invited Professor and Researcher at the University of Coimbra

Filippo Mangolini

Professor at University of Texas at Austin

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