Code GM - Nanoscale contact design of high-performance, energy-efficient, lightweight components for green mobility

Project duration

2022 - 2024

Project Category


Contact Information

prof. dr. Mitjan Kalin

Polymer (thermosets) are the obvious material choice for many EV components. However, the knowledge on behavior of these materials under required conditions is limited. This project aims to study the performance of thermoset materials under set of tribological conditions they are expected to encounter under EV mobility environment.

The field of tribology critically affects both the economic prosperity of society and its sustainability due to environmental pollution and the problem of climate change. Among all the fields that can contribute the most and the soonest to impact the urgent needs for a reduction of CO2 emissions, is the mobility sector. Electric vehicles (EVs), as well as hybrids, represent a great step toward sustainable mobility and global changes. While we all understand the problems associated with batteries and charging, the public is not at all aware of other, equally important challenges: EV components, and thus the tribological contacts, are entirely different from those in internal combustion engines, not suited and not able to sustainably support EV mobility over the long term. Therefore, EV technology is still much behind the real engineering needs - but EVs are already on the roads and the world
needs solutions now.

When trying to combine new requirements in EV green mobility, in particular lightweight components and isolating properties to avoid electric current issues, plastic materials are the most obvious choice. Thermosets are far better than thermoplastics for this purpose, but there are almost no data or understanding about thermoset tribology. Since thermoset tribology, in particular with EV lubrication technology, is entirely new, the tribological mechanisms are not understood, so the industry does not know how to select the right thermoset material, the variation of functional fillers (reinforcements and additives) in it, their manufacturing and consequent bulk and surface properties. Added to this we have the lubricant and its additives and contact parameters to obtain the necessary final product functionality. Moreover, frequently the fluid is predefined by the vehicle function (lubrication, cooling), like glycol and water, and thus the functionality must arise from adapting composite thermoset and contact design. 

This all calls for intersectoral research between industrial and academic partners, to draw together the limited and very scattered knowledge that currently exists. These problems are tackled in this project where two renowned groups join their expertise: Kolektor, a global company in electromobility with activities in some key mobility components and the Laboratory for Tribology and Interface Nanotechnology, one of the world’s foremost groups working in interface boundary-layer tribology and surface nanotechnology, and which is tremendously experienced in leading national and international consortia, researching new surface-engineering technologies and lubrication concepts.