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Tribology Laboratory

CemeCon coating chamber
CemeCon coating chamber

Engineers in Argonne’s Tribology Laboratory conduct research on advanced tribological systems (surface engineered materials, lubricants, fuels, and fuel/lubricant additives) for use in aggressive environments (for example, where two surfaces are rubbing together).

The Laboratory is equipped with a full range of coating development, friction and wear testing, and characterization facilities.

Evaluation of Coatings and Systems

The Tribology Laboratory evaluates high performance coatings primarily intended to protect engine-component surfaces that undergo sliding and rolling contact in advanced transportation systems.

Also tested are systems powered by diesel and gasoline engines, as well as by advanced energy conversion systems being developed under the sponsorship of DOE’s Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies (FCVT); Office of Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and Infrastructure Technologies; and U.S. industry.

Transportation-related Tribology Research

  • Testing of low-friction, wear-resistant coatings deposited on metals, ceramics, and polymers intended for use in components for low-heat-rejection diesels and other high-temperature advanced engines and engine power trains
  • Assessment of high-performance NFC (near-frictionless carbon) coatings for use in engine components of advanced internal combustion engines and fuel cell compressor/expanders
  • Evaluation of solid lubricants for metal-forming operations, top-of-rail lubricants to minimize fuel consumption in railroad applications, and lubricity additives for low sulfur diesel fuels
  • Evaluation of low-friction coatings and/or materials for critical components of air compressor/expanders being developed for vehicle-fuel cell systems
  • Measurement of erosion rates of fluids containing various nanoparticles and nanotubes pumped at velocities typical for heavy-vehicle radiators


  • EERE Vehicles Technologies Program
  • EERE Industrial Technologies Program
  • EERE Wind Program



George Fenske

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