School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


Automotive Powertrain Tribology

Automotive Powertrain Tribology

Automotive powertrains experience inefficiencies that result due to the relative motion of the interacting components. Our research uncovers the key physical phenomena that generate and influence these frictional parasitic losses.

Our Aim

Improving the efficiency of automotive powertrains increases the vehicle range and power outputs. Our research studies the physical mechanisms that cause frictional losses and energy dissipation. Thus, our aim is to design powertrain components and systems in order to reduce the unwanted parasitic losses.

The research group works across a range of powertrain systems and components, such as transmission and differential gearing, shaft seals, radial lip seals, transmission rolling element bearing, as well as piston ring, piston skirt, valve-train and engine bearings in internal combustion engines.

Our Research

Our research utilises a combination of multi-scale and multi-physics experimental work and numerical analysis. The efficiency of the interacting contacts highly depends on the coupled dynamics and tribological conditions at the contact and both aspects are carefully considered in any analysis. Experimentally, system and component level test rigs are used to determine frictional behaviour. These include:

  • Engine test cell facilities
  • Mini traction machine (MTM)
  • Reciprocating tribometers
  • Pin on disc tribometers
  • Motored engines
  • Motored transmisson sytems
  • Gear Pair test systems
  • High speed bearing test rigs
  • Wet clutch rigs

Understanding the frictional behaviour is attained using a range of surface characterisation techniques for topographic analysis:

  • AFM
  •  Interferometry
  • CMM
  • EDX
  • XPS
  • SEM

Our Outcomes

The Dynamics Research Group has completed numerous research projects with a variety of industrial partners in recent years. Key research projects and related outputs are summarised below:

Athena Swan Bronze award

Contact us

The Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering
Loughborough University
LE11 3TU