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Revolutionizing Space Lubrication: Elevating Tribological Excellence with Flake Graphene Innovations

Running

Running

Prime contractor
Organisational Unit
02 April 2024

Duration: 12 months

Objective

Nowadays, the vast majority of instruments used in space contain tribological elements requiring lubricant for appropriate operation. Its functionality relies on the lubricants with thermal stability, oxidation resistance, low outgassing properties, and large viscosity index. Spacecraft lifetime is unfortunately limited to grease serviceability, corrosion occurrence, radiation degradation of lubricant. Greases currently used in space solutions need improvements, especially in context of planned missions to Mars and Moon. This idea focuses on optimization and dedicated engineering of graphene flakes as greases additives specially for space applications. It was found that the introduction of flake graphene as an additive to the lubricant improves its lubricating properties, reducing the coefficient of friction and surface wear. This is due to the unique properties of this material, such as the thickness of only single or few layers of carbon atoms, layered structure, small flake size, large specific surface area, high mechanical strength, high thermal conductivity, good lubricating and anti-corrosion properties. The study conducted by Łukasiewicz Institute of Microelectronics and Photonics shows outstanding 70% reduction in wear in comparison with use of grease without additives. [1] Novelty of this idea is to perform optimization of currently existing greases by tailoring graphene flakes especially for space tribology solutions, using dedicated and proven methods of additives dispersion guarantying time-lasting stability of composite grease. This solution is addressing problem of mechanisms lifetime wear-limitation, by elevating its tribological excellence with at least 15% reduction in wear.

This idea answers the need underlined in ESA 6.2 “Enhancing and game-changing tribology technology” subsection. Elevating tribological excellence is crucial for extend lifetime of numerous space technology devices.

[1] Djas, M., Matuszewska, A., Borowa, B., Kowiorski, K., Wieczorek, P., Małek, M., Chlanda, A.; Flake Graphene as an Innovative Additive to Grease with Improved Tribological Properties; Materials (2022) 15 (21), art. no. 7775 ; DOI: 10.3390/ma15217775

Contract number
4000144337
OSIP Idea Id
I-2023-09671
Related OSIP Campaign
Open Channel
Main application area
Generic for multiple space applications
Budget
175000€
Revolutionizing Space Lubrication: Elevating Tribological Excellence with Flake Graphene Innovations