Minister Naledi Pandor opens International Tribology Conference at the University of Pretoria (UP)

Posted on April 13, 2011

In her address, the Minister referred to the importance of energy, savings in energy and how South Africa should be at the forefront of technology in this regard. She also elaborated on the focus Government is placing on energy and the importance of harvesting the energy resources available to us, in the most appropriate way. In his vote of thanks, Prof Roelf Sandenbergh, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology emphasised the importance of the training of engineers for the country. This will ensure a sustainable economy and ensure that all South Africans share in the benefits of technology.

Tribology is the study of the science of surfaces in relative motion and involves, in general terms, the study of lubrication, lubricants, materials and wear and how these interact. It is a vast field and is of an interdisciplinary nature. Some of these disciplines include Materials Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, and Surface Science.

The two guest speakers at this event were Prof Bharat Bhushan from Ohio State University, and Prof Kristian Tonder from The Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology ( NTNU).

Prof Bhushan gave an overview of applications of Tribology, including processes in nature, which function from the macro scale to the nanoscale. The emerging field of biomimetics allows one to mimic biology or nature to develop nanomaterials, nanodevices and processes. Molecular scale devices, superhydrophobicity, self-cleansing, drag reduction in fluid flow, energy conversion and conservation, high adhesion, reversible adhesion, aerodynamic lift, materials and fibres with high mechanical strength, biological self-assembly, anti-reflection, structural coloration, thermal insulation, self-healing, and sensory aid mechanisms are some of the examples found in nature which are of commercial interest.

Prof Tonder’s lecture focused on an overview of current knowledge of the effects of texture on lubricated surfaces of bearings and other tribological devices. The emphasis is on hydrodynamic lubrication, particularly under conditions of applicability of the Reynolds equation. It is shown that under these conditions, the modified Reynolds equations, originally derived for roughness are valid for texture and represent good tools for studying the relevant effects. The work shows that under realistic conditions, texturing has only a small positive influence on the load-carrying ability and friction of bearings when applied over the whole bearing surface. Stronger effects on performance are shown to be obtainable by UP partial texturing.

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