Newly granted NWO-TTW project

Advanced Grease Lubrication – high tech solutions for a longstanding problem

Several percent of the global energy consumption get lost due to friction and dissipation in all sorts of machinery. The use of grease to lubricate tribological contacts is one of the oldest technologies employed by mankind to reduce this problem. Nevertheless, crucial aspects controlling the transport and release of oil from this soft material to lubricate bearings have remained elusive. With the massive rollout of grease-lubricated electric vehicles replacing oil-lubricated combustion engines and grease-lubricated wind turbines replacing oil-lubricated steam turbines, improving the performance of grease lubrication regarding energy loss, lifetime, and maintenance have become increasingly important to facilitate the transition towards a more sustainable future.

In a newly granted NWO-TTW project, researchers at the UT will apply a suite of microscopic characterization tools to develop a physical understanding of oil transport and release in soft porous media. In a second phase novel strategies to improve the lubrication processes will be explored involving dedicated soft responsive polymer materials. The project of 1mio EUR will  involve a team of three PhD students as well as researchers from the groups of Physics of Complex Fluids, Sustainable Polymer Chemistry, and Surface Technology and Tribology, working in close collaboration with a major grease and a major bearing manufacturer and other industrial users.