Review of Frontiers & Argonne Wind Turbine Tribology Seminar 2018

Our General Manager, Dr Rich Baker, was in Chicago last week attending both the STLE Frontiers conference in down town Chicago and then, later in the week a Wind Turbine Tribology Seminar at Argonne National Labs, just outside of Chicago.

The STLE Frontiers conference, held at the historic Drake Hotel in Chicago started at Sunday lunchtime with a fascinating opening plenary talk by Professor Greg Sawyer from the University of Florida on Tribology of Biomedicine – particularly focusing on his research on Cancer cells, giving a passionate and thoughtful insight into this very complicated system.  Following on from this the conference moved into parallel sessions on surfaces, in-situ tribometry, fluid lubrication and polymer tribology.  The evening meet and greet networking reception event brought the 250 delegates together over some light snacks and refreshments.

The 2nd day opened with another fascinating plenary session on Snake Skin Surface Tribology by Dr Stanislav Gord from the University of Kiel, Germany, who talked about the differences between the way that snakes have adapted to their environment and how their skin surfaces reflects this.


The rest of the day continued to cover the topics from Day 1 and in addition sessions on Machine Elements and material tribology and a full session on the still heavily debated white etching cracks (WEC’s), where the PCS MPR was mentioned in almost every talk of the session as the most suitable instrument to study the formation and growth of these WEC’s.

Day 3 again started with a plenary session from Dr Nicole Zander from the Army Research Laboratory on the Tribology of Additive Manufacturing -AM (3D Printing) and how the army are looking to use AM in the field, to not only make replacement parts for items in the field (be it buckles for straps or components for vehicles), but also how to re-cycle used plastics to make products that can be re-used.

The day carried on with morning talks at the Frontiers conference, and after this had finished we moved out of downtown Chicago and went to the tour of the tribology lab at Argonne labs followed by a Halloween themed networking evening at the A-Loft hotel in Bollingbrook!

The 2-day seminar at Argonne started at 8.30am the next day where over 100 delegates assembled to hear talks on lubrication fundamentals, materials and surface engineering and gear oil formulation, before lunch and then two talks on white etching cracks and an update on field gearbox monitoring from NREL before a panel discussion on advances in gearbox lubrication.


Day 2 focused on greases and started with a talk by Onyx on grease lubricated contacts and failure modes in wind turbines.  This was followed by a talk on grease formulation from Lubrizol before a grease lubrication contact panel session.

The event concluded with a talk on the challenges in Offshore Wind which was given remotely by Vattenfall in Sweden

So, all in all a very busy, but educational week in and around the Windy City.  Both events had lots of networking opportunities, allowing Rich to have discussions with industry and academia talking, through their challenges and requirements and how PCS can help both in the short term and long term with potential new product developments.