Research on friction provides energy-efficient vehicles
Research to make vehicles more energy efficient is going on at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden, who has one of the Europe’s largest research groups on the subject of tribology (the science of friction, lubrication and friction). The research is carried out in close cooperation with the automotive industry and with society’s ambitious environmental goals as a benchmark.
The automotive industry makes use of research in tribology at Luleå University of Technology (LTU) in order to achieve ambitious goals of lower fuel consumption of vehicles of the future. One of the largest research groups on the subject of tribology (the science of friction, lubrication and friction) is at Luleå University of Technology
– We work for example in trying to reduce friction between the piston rings and cylinder liners in truck engines. By making the surfaces with improved properties lubrication can be more effective, says Professor Roland Larsson, head of research at the Department of machine elements at Luleå University of Technology.
At the Division of Machine Elements there are numerous research projects directly related to the automotive industry and a research group with about 40 people working on this. The potential for improvement is great, because if you reduce friction in the cylinders by 25%, the fuel consumption of vehicles can be reduced by 5%. The research division at LTU today cooperates with companies such as Volvo, Scania, SAAB, and Haldex Traction.
Hubert Herbst, Senior Engineer at Scania CV in Södertälje, Sweden stresses that the cylinder liners and piston rings are the most important tribological system of a reciprocating engine. Therein lies the challenge to improve engine performance and in that sense LTU:s tribological research can help, he assesses.
– By Professor Roland Larsson and his team at Luleå University of Technology, Scania has found a competent institution that can improve the quality of mathematical formulas for lubricated sliding system, which in turn can ensure an efficient, gradual improvement of the engines, “he says.
An ongoing research is to find surfaces, lubricants, and mechanisms that minimize friction in the various engine parts such as gears, bearings and similar. Andrew Spencer is one of the researchers in the team, studying the friction between the cylinder walls, pistons and piston rings in truck engines on behalf of Scania CV.
– I study the particular texture of the cylinder walls by means of simulation and trying to find out what is the optimal “said Andrew Spencer, a doctoral student and researcher at the Department of machine elements at the LTU who recently submitted his dissertation on the subject.
Surface roughness is his study and it consists of the check pattern that is characteristic of cylinder liners. He studies deep lines and angles in order to reduce friction, wear and oil consumption.
New knowledge on the tribological phenomena is the necessary research to develop new energy efficient technologies. The development of new hybrid vehicles is a typical example of this. It requires more complex transmissions than conventional, because a hybrid car has two engines, an electric and a combustion engine.
Although new and lighter materials in vehicles requires tribological research which is yet another area that one of Europe’s largest research groups in tribology at Lulea University of Technology, is working with.