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The University of Southampton

School of Engineering celebrates 10 years of world leading research in Tribology

Published: 14 December 2018
Guests from industry and nCATS Alumni came together to mark the 10th anniversary of the centre

The National Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS) was established in 2008 to provide world leading research in tribology, the science of friction, wear and lubrication of surfaces that come in to contact together in motion.

The staff of nCATS marked the anniversary with a celebratory event held in the Engineering School attended by guests from industry including Dr Ian Taylor of Shell, Professor Honor Powrie of GE and Dr Nicola Symonds of nC2 Engineering Consultancy.

Over the last 10 years, the Centre has worked with hundreds of organisations to solve their engineering challenges and design the most effective ways for surfaces to come into contact with each other most effectively with minimal energy loss or damage.

Among some of the projects the centre has taken on since being established are:

  • Research how to make hip implants last longer, identifying what is going wrong with implants and the moment and discovering better ways to measure how much the wear down.
  • Tackling the rail network’s “leaves on the line” problem. The centre is developing and testing an ‘Ultrasonic Rail Mop’ with a grant from the Department for Transport which aims to remove crushed leaves from the tracks so trains can brake safely and avoid costly delays.
  • Controlling corrosion in Naval Ships as part of a European Defence Agency project.
  • Detection techniques for scuffing of automotive materials
  • Two EU projects looking into aircraft engine bearing health monitoring and intelligent bearings
  • High strain rate testing erosion by rain droplets and solid particles
  • Green Tribology - research focusing on low impact ways of reducing friction and wear – eg new lubricants based on renewable natural materials, solid wear-resistant surface coatings that don’t require lubrications.

As well as reflecting on the successes of the past 10 years, attendees and looked ahead to the next generation of challenges that the centre is ready to address. This includes a grant of £1mn awarded by the EPSRC to study the early detection of contact distress for enhanced performance monitoring and predictive inspection of machines such as planes and cars. The three year project which is partnership with General Electric Company, Schaeffler KG, Senseye and Shell.

To coincide with this celebration two of nCATS leaders have been given major awards by industry. Centre Director, Robert Wood, has been awarded a Silver Medal by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers for his outstanding and sustained contribution to the science and technology of Tribology.

Professor of Tribo-Sensing at nCATS, Ling Wang, also collected the COMADIT prize from the British Institute of Non Destructive Testing. Her award is in recognition of her outstanding research record in sensor and signal processing for condition monitoring, especially for tribological systems such as bearings, engines, lubrication and wear.

nCATS was created with an EPSRC Science and Innovation award in 2008 with industrial support from 20 companies and the University giving a £10 million investment into tribology to form a new national centre.


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