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The University of Southampton

Tribologists win top prize at Japanese conference for insight into optimising lubricants

Published: 3 January 2020
Award being presented
Dr Yuji Shitara, Go Tatsumi and Dr Monica Ratoi are presented the Best Paper Award

Engineers from the University Southampton have been presented a Best Paper Award at a prestigious tribology conference for their investigation into the friction and wear of polymeric materials.

Members of the national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS) were honoured at the International Tribology Conference (ITC) in Sendai, Japan, for findings that can help drive the development of renewable and more environmentally friendly systems.

The prize, which was awarded by the Japanese Society of Tribologists, is the third international accolade to be awarded to nCATS researchers in 2019, underlining the group’s place at the forefront of global lubrication and engineering advancements.

The new research was led by PhD student Go Tatsumi and Southampton co-authors Dr Monica Ratoi and Dr Brian Mellor, together with industrial sponsors Dr Yuji Shitara and Mr Kiyomi Sakamoto from JXTG.

“The Japanese are world leaders in tribology so it is an amazing achievement to have had our research recognised as the best by the nation’s top tribology forum,” Monica says. “This PhD project was only started in October 2018 and the results and the paper were produced in its first nine months, which is a very impressive achievement.”

The global shift toward clean energy production and usage is placing an increased spotlight on tribology and its ability to offer major improvements in engineering. In this context, the use of lighter, self-lubricating materials such as polymers for moving components can lead to significant reductions in friction, wear of parts and overall weight which are very important for all forms of modern transport.

The Southampton paper covered fundamental research on the lubrication of polymer/steel contacts which can reduce friction and wear even further.

“While the lubrication mechanism of metals has been extensively investigated and is well known, the case of polymeric materials is very complex due to various new factors,” Monica explains. “Our research revealed the important factors and elucidated their effect by using a sophisticated mathematical-like experimental approach to determine the unknowns.”

nCATS’ earlier successes in 2019 were awarded at the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE) Annual Meeting in Nashville, USA.

Robert Elkington was presented the Richard Booser scholarship and is now undertaking a PhD project investigating a versatile type of biological liquid crystals that achieve very low levels of friction in high pressure contacts.

The group were also presented the Platinum Best Poster for ground-breaking research developing novel fully controlled lubricant nanoadditives.

The award-winning ITC Sendai paper, titled the ‘Effect of lubrication on friction and wear properties of PEEK with steel counterparts’, can be viewed in full on the University of Southampton Institutional Repository.

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