Simulation tools to develop more sustainable lubricants

Gipuzkoa, News

Tekniker leads the European SITOLUB project focused on evaluating industrial fluids and developing more environmentally friendly eco-fats and oils.

Industry is experiencing a period of transition towards more sustainable practices which, in the field of lubricants, responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of machinery and equipment in various sectors, is driving manufacturers to seek safer and more respectful alternatives that reduce the environmental footprint and are environmentally friendly.

In this context, the Tekniker technology centre, a member of the Basque Research and Technology Alliance (BRTA), is leading the European SITOLUB project, whose main objective is to develop simulation tools integrated through artificial intelligence methods for the formulation of lubricants and capable of evaluating the safety and sustainability aspects of these, such as their toxicity for people, the impact they generate on the environment and the potential risks for workers.

In addition to the analysis of these elements, the initiative will examine the functionality of lubricants in different industrial applications and assess their economic viability, as well as their social impact by ensuring the promotion of sustainable practices throughout the value chain.

In this line, Tekniker plays a leading role in the validation of the simulation tools developed through its know-how in artificial intelligence and its solid experience in the tribological field. With more than 30 years of experience and one of the most complete laboratories in Europe, the Basque technology centre will be in charge of evaluating the physical and chemical properties of the materials, as well as their tribological behaviour, such as friction and wear, under different operating conditions.

In addition, during the project it will work on the development of a digital platform that will integrate all the simulation tools created and which will be used to analyse and process all the data generated within the framework of SITOLUB and in its future exploitation.

Tailor-made lubricants

The initiative coordinated by Tekniker will also use advanced molecular dynamics models to understand how lubricant molecules and additives interact, run tribological simulations to predict their behaviour under different working conditions and use LCA software to estimate the impact on the environment, society and the economy. This will allow the development of eco-oils and greases adapted to each industrial use, ensuring their efficiency and considering their environmental and social impact in a holistic way.

“The knowledge generated will allow manufacturers to design lubricants tailored to specific applications such as wind turbines, electric cars or space systems, saving time and costs,” explains Francesco Pagano, researcher at Tekniker’s Tribology and Materials unit.

In this line, and in order to combine efforts and resources, SITOLUB will collaborate closely with other European projects in which Tekniker participates, such as i-Tribomat, a European startup that offers tribological characterisation services for materials and lubricants; OntoCommons, focused on establishing a standardised method for digitising the results of tribological experiments; and IRISS, an initiative that seeks to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable materials, products and processes.

Funded by the Horizon Europe programme, SITOLUB involves 12 partners from 7 European countries and will end in 2027.


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