Greenhouse Gases from Friction Losses

Greenhouse Gases from Friction Losses: Operando X-ray Imaging of Lubricant/Steel Boundary Layers

Operando studies of interfacial tribochemistry and microstructure in sliding metal-metal contacts will be performed using sub-micron X-ray beams at ID31 and ID11 with PDF, SAXS and XRD detection. The research is aligned with technology development for reducing friction losses in engines. Almost 25% of the world’s energy is expended to overcome friction1 and 14% of greenhouse gases (GHGs) come from transportation2. While passenger vehicle emissions will decline through electrification, the shipping sector will continue to use Internal combustion engines (ICEs). Without new emission control technologies, it will account for 17% of global CO2 emissions by 20503.

Currently there are no analytical techniques providing information on the relevant structural dynamics and tribochemistry under the extreme conditions in reciprocating sliding contacts. Using sub-micron X-ray beams to probe the sliding boundary layer (thickness ~100 nm) multiscale analysis will be performed, determining molecular (PDF, XRD), mesoscopic (SAXS, high resolution imaging) and macroscopic (imaging, tomography) structure and composition, and relate them to friction reduction under confinement, pressure and shear. With complementary surface and interface analysis in the laboratory this work would instantly propel the student to the forefront of international tribology research, opening up routes to both an academic and an industrial research career.


ESRF logo with baseline                  University of Leeds




Inga Kicior is working on the greenhouse Gases from Friction Losses project. This project sees collaboration between the ESRF, Infineum and the University of Leeds