The Tribology Trust will present VTT Professor Kenneth Holmberg with the most highly prized award in the field, the Tribology Gold Medal Award, for his long-standing, major achievements in material and friction research. The impacts of Holmberg's research can be seen in lower energy consumption by machinery, which has an effect on climate change. Holmberg is the first Finn to be awarded the prize.
Tribology is a multidisciplinary research area which involves the study of friction, wear and lubrication-related phenomena on contact surfaces.
"Friction accounts for 20% of all energy consumption in the world. When friction is reduced, less energy is consumed. This is an excellent way of combating climate change," says Professor Holmberg.
Friction and wear are major factors when putting large masses into motion. For example, friction accounts for over 30% of fuel consumption in passenger cars, 40% of energy consumption in mining industry equipment and 30% of mechanical power in paper-making machines.
Holmberg has three research focuses related to the reduction of friction and machine wear: thin surfaces layers such as nanostructured thin films, diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings and graphene; modelling and digital design; and their a global impact. The related findings have great impacts on whole of society, in industry, power plants, transport and residential environments.
Digitalisation is transforming the development of materials and enabling precise customisation. A computer can be used to design a digital model of the mechanical component and its material to which intelligent features such as sensors are added. These will detect cracks that appear in the machine and repair them automatically. Optimal surface shaping and thin coatings can reduce friction by 50%. We have now achieved surfaces that are one hundred times more slippery than 20 years ago. VTT's ProperTune material design tool accelerates various design stages, shortening time-to-market. In addition, machines last longer and expensive downtime is avoided.
Artificial intelligence is being applied increasingly often, due to the large data quantities needed for digital design.
Holmberg will be presented his award on 20 December at the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Helsinki
Keith Bowen, the chairperson of the Tribology Trust Award Committee, will present Holmberg the award in a ceremony arranged by Ambassador Sarah Price.
The Tribology Gold Medal Award is also known as the "Tribology Nobel prize", because it is awarded in a manner similar to the Nobel prize procedure.
The prize was presented for the first time in 1972 and has been awarded to 38 people from 12 countries.
The Tribology Trust is managed by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, an independent mechanical engineering association with headquarters in London. The association has a total of 115,000 members in 140 countries. http://www.imeche.org/
Image: Kenneth Holmberg
VTT's ProperTune Tool for Optimal Material Design: