What is tribology?
Tribology is the science of surfaces in relative motion and their interactions and includes aspects of materials, lubrication and wear.
The Tribology Laboratory in the Department of Chemical Engineering was established in 1988 with the support of industry (ESKOM, ISCOR, SASOL & Anglo American Corporation) to assist in the evaluation and selection of lubricants. Lubricant performance analysis is the main activity of the laboratory although, through collaborative efforts with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, interesting investigations into the tribological behaviour of artificial implants are also being conducted. The laboratory is well equipped to evaluate the performance of lubricants under conditions that can be related to those in practice.
Research effort is focused around problems experienced by industry in the areas of:
- Sprayability characteristics of sprayable greases;
- Mobility characteristics of lubricants under varying environmental conditions;
- Resistance of greases against water spray;
- Fire-resistant properties of hydraulic fluids;
- Characterisation of cutting fluids;
- Determination of lubricity properties of diesel fuel.
For determination of load and wear properties of lubricants, a variety of test rigs are available including:
- The SRV-machine: a reciprocating test bed with variable frequency & stroke;
- The FZG-machine: an actual gear set operating at extreme conditions of relative motion and loading;
- The Shell 4-ball machine;
- Falex machine;
- Timken apparatus;
- HFRR diesel lubricity tester.
Interaction with the industry
Test methods for open-gear lubricants developed in this laboratory now form part of the standard specifications of ESKOM and Anglo-American Corporation. Major and small suppliers of lubricants in South Africa are clients of this laboratory. The laboratory has been involved in the development of various lubricants used in the South African mining industry.
Prof Philip de Vaal, Tel.: 012-420-2475, e-mail: email@example.com