Original Paper

Tribology Letters

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 15-24

First online:

Size, Shape, and Elemental Composition of Airborne Wear Particles from Disc Brake Materials

  • Jens WahlströmAffiliated withMachine Design, Royal Institute of Technology Email author 
  • , Lars OlanderAffiliated withBuilding Services Engineering, Royal Institute of Technology
  • , Ulf OlofssonAffiliated withMachine Design, Royal Institute of Technology

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During braking, both the rotor and pads experience wear, generating particles that may become airborne. In field tests, it is difficult to distinguish these particles from others in the surrounding environment, so it is preferable to use laboratory test stands to study the amount of airborne wear particles generated. The purpose of this work is to investigate the possibility of separate, capture, and analyze airborne wear particles generated by a disc brake in a disc brake assembly test stand. This test stand used allows the cleanliness of the air surrounding the test specimens to be controlled and thus the airborne portion of the wear particles to be studied separately. One pair each of low-metallic (LM) and non-asbestos organic (NAO) brake pads was tested against grey cast iron rotors. Before testing, the elemental contents of the brake materials were analyzed using glow discharge optical emission spectroscopy (GDOES). The concentration and size of airborne wear particles were measured online during testing. In addition, airborne wear particles were collected on filters during the tests and afterward analyzed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). The analyzed wear particles contained elements such as iron, titanium, zinc, barium, manganese, and copper. Both the low-metallic and non-asbestos organic type of brake pads tested display a bimodal size distribution with peaks at 280 and 350 nm. Most of the airborne particles generated have a diameter smaller than 2.5 μm.


Wear Airborne particles Disc brake SEM EDX GDOES