Biorefining: A Green Tribological Perspective

  • P.  L. de Vaal
  • L. F. Barker
  • E. du Plessis
  • D. Crous
Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


As a developing country, South Africa is in a unique position with regard to establishing, maintaining and expanding infrastructure to ensure compliance with international trends with respect to environmental regulations, while at the same time establishing the means to provide access to affordable energy to all its citizens to share the potential of its resources. In many respects, tribology plays an important role in saving of energy as well as ensuring that requirements with regard to protecting the environment are complied with. Green tribology can rightly be regarded as an approach which is timely and which has an impact on many activities like electricity generation, production of synthetic fuels and lubricants, mining operations and protection of the environment and its resources. Focusing on the interface between Tribology and Biorefining, several interesting possibilities open up. With the constant rise in the price of oil, alternatives to crude oil as primary energy source and as basic feedstock for fuels and chemicals are becoming more and more attainable. In this chapter an overview is provided of the above, from a South African perspective. A number of case-study examples are given which indicate that a “green” approach in finding engineering solutions to tribological problems which could have a far-reaching impact on the environment. Three examples are used, namely how proper selection of tailor-made lubricants could decrease energy usage in gear-driven systems. The focus here is on the power industry, where coal-based power plants are the only economically feasible solution to the increasing demand for electricity in a developing economy with virtually no crude oil reserves. The success atttained in this endeavour should stimulate similar projects in the mining sector of the country. In the second instance, ingenious application of tribology with respect to application of specialised lubricants from a renewable source, namely plant oils, can decrease cost of lubrication and, in addition, can resolve difficult issues with regard to disposal of contaminated waste in metal cutting operations, indicating the value of a “green tribology approach”. Thirdly, combining the concept of biorefineries, tribology and the ability to synthesise products to suit specific requirements, including formulation of lubricants and fuels, can lead to substantially improved products, impacting in a positive way on the environment.


Minimum Quantity Lubrication Cast Ingot Helical Gear Material Safety Data Sheet Synthetic Fuel 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • P.  L. de Vaal
    • 1
  • L. F. Barker
    • 2
  • E. du Plessis
    • 3
  • D. Crous
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Eskom Generation Business EngineeringJohannesburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.Producut Lubrication Technologies (Pty) LtdSilvertonSouth Africa

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