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SECTOR FOCUS: TRIBOLOGY


and the hidden impact of wear protection on sustainability


Tribology is an indirectly visible consequence of mankind’s activities. However, the public discussion and perception of tribology as a cross-sectional technology, is in the German Society for Tribology’s (GfT) view, one that is not nearly sufficiently taken into account with regard to its broad range of services in helping reduce CO2


emissions and


improving sustainability. Compared to the easily comprehensible correlation between “CO2


and


friction“, the interaction between “wear protection and sustainability” is more complex.


The results of human activities have always been valued in terms of money. Direct and embedded emissions of CO2


or CO2 equivalents (CO2eq. )


represents the currencies or “gold standard” of the future for sustainability in order to compare and evaluate human activities [1][2].


The impact of tribology on national economies was studied several times in the past, but CO2


emissions


and material footprints remained unconsidered (see Table 1). The primary motivation was to study the potential to reduce the dependency from oil imports. The studies from Sir Peter Jost [3], A.S.M.E [4] and A.R.P.A.-E [5] stated that savings in primary energy consumption can be correlated to CO2


emissions depending on the local power mix.


In 2019, the fossil share of global primary energy generation was 86%, the entirety of which produces CO2


emissions. According to Holmberg et al. [6,7], 20-23% of the total primary energy consumption


30 LUBE MAGAZINE NO.163 JUNE 2021


Table 1: A display of potential energy savings using tribological measures [1,2,10] Continued on page 32


Relationships between CO2


emissions, friction Mathias Woydt - MATRILUB, Berlin, Germany


is lost due to friction, with a long-term savings potential of 40%. Resolutions of the US Congress (non-adopted) stated, that “approximately one third of the world´s primary energy consumption is attributed to friction” [8]. The different studies elaborated a range of potentials for reducing primary energy consumption by friction:


Jost 1966: 5%; Holmberg 2019: 8%; Holmberg 2017: 8,6%; A.S.M.E. 1977: 10,9%; US Congress 2016: 12%; A.R.P.A.-E 2017: 24%.


Fossil (anthropogenic), direct or energy related CO2 emissions accumulated in 2019 to 33.6 gigatons of


CO2 [9]. By assuming potential long-term savings


of 30-40% through tribological measures of the frictional content in primary energy use, we could see potential CO2


film coatings and alternative alloys, are the most versatile and safe technology to reduce friction.


reduction in the range from 2.7


gigatons up to 8.1 gigatons or 8-24% of the global and direct CO2


emissions. Lubricants, a part of thin


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