Solid lubricants have been known and used for decades. They have been particularly successful in several demanding applications, such as the aerospace industry or nuclear reactors; however, market penetration is still very limited. There are several reasons for this, such as lack of experience, conservativeness of the producers, and higher initial costs limiting mass production.
However, the main obstacle is the lack of education and training in multidisciplinary skills needed to understand, improve and apply novel solid lubricants. Frictional and wear processes are extremely complex and only synergy of simulations and experiments can overcome present limitations. Another obstacle is the traditional “fix-it” approach still widely used in surface engineering. Solid lubricants must enter the design process of a mechanical system in order to demonstrate the full benefit.
SOLUTION program had the following ambition:
• To demonstrate the predictive ability of modern multi-scale simulation techniques to develop solid lubricants with improved properties. Close interaction of theoretical simulations and validation by experiment at different scales will be achieved by enhanced multidisciplinary academic training;
• To design and fabricate a new class of solid lubricant coatings outperforming present competitive solutions. Selected industrial case studies will be used as an excellent tool to assess validity of simulation-based design and will provide valuable feedback for the entire development chain;
• To train and educate a new generation of ESRs to deal with a cross-disciplinary approach, to understand needs and inter-dependence of the entire fabrication chain, and to apply their knowledge in an industrial practice.
In SOLUTION project, the following results were achieved :
• Upscalling of the deposition process for self-lubricating coatings containing Transition Metal Dichalcogenides and Carbon (TMD-C);
• Two types of coatings, W-S-C and Mo-Se-C with excellent self-lubricating properties were upscaled and optimized for deposition in a semi-industrial deposition conditions;
• Analysis of the mechanisms governing the self-lubricating behavior of the TMD-C coatings;
• The results achieved at IPN were disseminated through 10 articles published in peer-reviewed journals;
• The two researchers employed at IPN in the name of this project obtained their PhD degrees.