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ring on liner reciprocating tester
Tribology Lab: Ring-on-liner reciprocating tester.

Argonne National Laboratory plays an important role in the Department of Energy's (DOE's) efforts to develop advanced materials for transportation. The materials are developed with DOE support from the EERE Office of Vehicle Technology and Office of Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and Infrastructure Technologies in collaboration with worldwide industrial partners. Examples of materials development efforts include the development of:

  • Coatings and lubricants for passenger and heavy-duty vehicles
  • Nanofluids to improve heat transfer in transportation and industrial settings
  • Advanced joining processes to bond dissimilar materials used in automotive components such as sensors
  • Recycling strategies to recover shredder residue from recycled cars and appliances
  • Catalysts to mitigate harmful NOx emissions in diesel exhaust
  • Analytical tools to assess the impact of automotive design concepts on overall energy and material demands

Coatings and Lubricants

Ten to 15% of all fuel used in transportation is consumed by friction (metal to metal, viscous, or churning) in the engine, transmission, or differential. Research at Argonne investigates the role of friction on fuel consumption and develops advanced strategies to mitigate friction and improve the durability of critical engine components. Additional activities examine the role that after-treatment devices, alternative fuels, low-sulfur fuels, and other pathways (to reduce US dependence on foreign oil and improve emissions) may have on the reliability and durability of engines.


Thirty percent of fuel used in transportation is lost to engine coolant. Another 30% is lost to exhaust. Research at Argonne is exploring the potential of advanced heat transfer technologies to facilitate the control of heat management systems using high-heat transfer coolants doped with nanoparticles, high efficiency heat exchangers, and multi-phase coolants.

Deformation Joining

Materials research at Argonne investigates joining difficult materials using plastic deformation and determines the mechanism of joining. Argonne researchers successfully created strong, pore-free joints in ceramics, ceramic composites, intermetallics, and cermets. Residual stresses have been measured and we have demonstrated that we can tailor the residual stresses by using a variety of interlayers having different coefficients of thermal expansion.


Catalysts are the backbone to catalytic convertors. They convert harmful gases such as nitrogen oxides to benign forms that donít harm the environment. Research in the Chemical Science and Engineering Division at Argonne focuses on the development of zeolite-based copper catalysts that show great potential to reduce NOx emissions produced in diesel engines.


Argonne is known worldwide for its well-to-wheel analysis tools developed to assess the impact of materials and energy in transportation and industrial sectors. Detailed studies on the impact of new materials used in concepts such as aluminum intensive vehicles, hybrid cars, fuel cells, and diesel hybrids have provided DOE with accurate, reliable information to guide the development of fuel efficient vehicles.


Tribology Laboratory

Illinois Center for Advanced Tribology

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