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Green Tribology

Dr. Michael Nosonovsky's picture

Tribology is defined as the science and technology of interacting surfaces in relative motion, which involves friction, wear and lubrication.

The term “tribology” was introduced in the 1960s by Prof. Peter Jost.  In the consequent decades, various aspects of interacting surfaces in relative motion have been the focus of tribology, including, for example, the tribology of automotive applications, microelectromechanical systems, magnetic storage devices, adhesive contact, micro/nanotribology, biotribology.

Recently, the concept of “green tribology” was introduced by Prof. P. Jost, who defined it as “the science and technology of the tribological aspects of ecological balance and of environmental and biological impacts.”  In his address to the Fifth World Tribology Congress in September 2009 in Kyoto, Prof. Jost elaborated on the need for the Green Tribology and mentioned that “the influence of economic, market, and financial triumphalisms have retarded tribology and could retard ‘Green Tribology’ from being accepted as a not-unimportant factor in its field…. Therefore, by highlighting the economic benefits of tribology, tribology societies, groups and committees are likely to have a far greater impact on the makers of policies and the providers of funding than by only preaching the scientific logic… Tribology societies should highlight to the utmost the economic advantage of tribology. It is the language financial oriented policy makers and markets, as well as governments, understand.”

Prof. Jost gave the credit for coining the term “Green Tribology’ to Prof. Si-wei Zhang of China, who “launched [it] as a tribology policy in London on 8th June of this year [2009], which date can be regarded as the acknowledged birthday of Green Tribology as an international concept.

The specific field of green or environment-friendly tribology emphasizes the aspects of interacting surfaces in relative motion, which are of importance for energy or environmental sustainability or which have impact upon today’s environment. This includes tribological technology that mimics living nature (biomimetic surfaces) and thus is expected to be environment-friendly, the control of friction and wear that is of importance for energy conservation and conversion, environmental aspects of lubrication and surface modification techniques, and tribological aspects of green applications such as the wind-power turbines, tidal turbines, or solar panels. It is clear that a number of tribological problems could be put under the umbrella of ‘green tribology’ and is of mutual benefit to one another.    

Together with Prof. B. Bhushan from the Ohio State University we are co-editing a volume on Green Tribology which will cover these diverse aspects of the new discipline. I hope that under the label of "Green Tribology" it will be possible to combine excellent and fundamental scientific research with the topics that are appealing to the broad audience.

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