TRibology as an ENabling Technology (TRENT)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


The 9th March 2016 was the 50th anniversary of the landmark "Jost Report - Lubrication (Tribology) Education and Research" . The word Tribology was born and the dramatic financial savings that could be gained by optimum practice in this area were formally documented for the first time. 50 years on, the impact of tribology (friction and wear) on the economies of developed nations remains the same; 5-8% of GDP; but tribology as an engineering science has evolved. Tribology challenges in 2016 and beyond are driven by new challenges; the challenges in 1966 were solved and new challenges go with the emergence of new industrial areas. The basic science of tribology remains the same but there is a need to embrace multi-scale thinking, complex materials and interfaces and systems to operate in new and demanding environments. In this proposal Tribology as an enabling technology will be integrated into two industrial areas that are underpinning for the UK and internationally; advanced manufacturing and robotics and autonomous systems. The proposal is transformative as it brings tribology, as a positive and enabling discipline, into two emerging areas of nanomanufacturing and robotics. Tribology is normally associated with the wear and degradation and whilst important to the economy normally has negative connotations. This proposal embraces the positive aspects of triblogical science.

Planned Impact

The key aim of TRENT is to introduce tribology as an enabling technology in the engineering of intelligent systems for manufacturing and robotics. This will be facilitated through collaboration with teams from Norway (NTNU); Germany (Max Planck) and the US (Caltech). Our study has the potential to have significant impact across a number of application areas (for example, transport, healthcare, energy (nuclear, offshore etc.) and both focus areas are pivotal to delivery on the Industrial Strategy and to EPSRC themes as highlighted in the case for support. This will only achieved through a well-defined strategy for dissemination to, and collaboration with academia and industry as outlined below.
Description The results in this output show numerically that the performance of rough surfaces can be tuned to optimise the tribofilm growth. In cases where thicker tribofilms are required, the manufacturing processes can be selected to give counterparts with lower negative skewness and larger autocorrelation length value. We have also deposited a range of nanocomposites and are now evaluating their electrical conductivity.
Exploitation Route Correlating surface topography properties with tribofilm formation and growth will inform the experimental work within TRENT project to manufacture films from various chemistries. In addition, these results will potentially impact the research on tribochemistry and the formation of films with defined tribological performance.
Sectors Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

Description (GreenTRIBOS) - GreenTRIBOS
Amount € 3,188,498 (EUR)
Funding ID 860246 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2020 
End 12/2023
Description (InnovaXN) - Doctoral programme for innovators with X-rays and neutrons
Amount € 6,508,800 (EUR)
Funding ID 847439 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 09/2019 
End 09/2024
Title Raman-based techniques for in-situ surface film thickness measurement 
Description With the support of TRENT grant, we have developed a Raman-based technique that has the potential to measure the thickness of the developed nano-structures in-situ. The technique will be utilised by the TRENT researchers to measure the thickness of the manufactured nanostructures. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact - Coating wear rate as a function of tribological contacts and lubricant chemistry; two outputs and 
Description Partnership with Caltech 
Organisation California Institute of Technology
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Development of numerical models that determine the growth of nanostructures from tribological contacts.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise and intellectual input in expanding the current numerical models with Data-Driven Constitutive equation generated by Caltech.
Impact Contributed to the three publications published in the last 12 months.
Start Year 2020
Description Partnership with Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Development of textured surfaces with optimised grasping.
Collaborator Contribution Experience in robotics, intellectual input on challenges related to grasping in biomedical devices/robots.
Impact Transfer of expertise.
Start Year 2020