President's corner - Archive


Previous President's corner articles by Ali Erdemir (TEES Eminent Professor, Texas A&M University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, College Station, TX, USA), elected ITC President for the period 2018-2021.


On the Role of Tribology in a Sustainable Future

Since the Industrial Revolution, the persistent increase of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has reached a tipping point and threatens ecosystems, biodiversity, and human well-being. The biggest challenge is to transition from a “business as usual” attitude into caring about solutions that can mitigate the worst consequences of climate change.

In recent years, World Leaders under the auspices of the United Nations have held a series of Climate Summits. The latest one was held in Glasgow-UK from October 31, 2021 – November 12, 2021 and culminated in drafting several promising treaties committing to more seriously dealing with GHG emissions and global mean temperature rise to avoid “climate catastrophe.” From the Glasgow Summit, it has become clear that to limit temperature rise by <1.5oC, GHG had to be cut by half within this decade, with further cuts to follow. Despite such dramatic measures, by the end of this century, we could experience warming by 2.5oC, which might be more tolerable than the 4oC trajectory that we would be on without cuts. 

The big question is – how can we reduce GHGs to hold global mean temperature under the 1.5oC threshold with some certainty? The obvious answer is to implement more environmentally sensible or responsible practices that are efficient, durable, and green in every respect. For instance, increasing the use of renewable energy sources with near-zero emissions and reducing those that depend heavily on the uses of non-renewables, like coal, oil, and natural gas. Further, we must all agree on a new paradigm that favors a circular economy, guaranteeing sustainable global growth for the generations to come.

As in the past, future technologies will continue to rely on mechanical systems whose smooth, safe, and long-lasting operations are directly impacted by friction, wear, and lubrication. Despite many great advances in tribomaterials and lubrication technologies, we still waste significant energy to overcome friction and wear. Nearly a quarter of the world’s primary energy consumption is due to friction and wear related losses. Hence, a key contributor to reducing GHG emissions is controlling or reducing friction and wear of these mechanical systems, ultimately saving a considerable amount of energy. As a multifaceted field, Tribology can be an important discipline to help achieve our energy and environmental goals. There is no doubt that with ongoing research and discoveries, tribology will play a key role in making future mechanical systems far more reliable, efficient, and green, altogether creating a more sustainable world. If you would like to see some of the latest discoveries in our field, please join us at the next World Tribology Congress in Lyon, France, from July 10 to 15, 2022.


Invitation to the Greatest Show on Earth in Tribology

Among the many conferences or events featuring tribology as their main topic, World Tribology Congress (WTC) undoubtedly represents the greatest show on earth, featuring some of the latest and most exciting new developments in tribology. It also provides great networking opportunities and especially meeting with the next generation of tribologists worldwide. WTCs are organized quadrennially by a host country under the auspices of the International Tribology Council (ITC). The very first one was held in London-England on September 8-12, 1997, and then the Congress moved around the world in the following order: Austria (2001), USA (2005), Japan (2009), Italy (2013), and Beijing (2017). I was so privileged to be able to attend all of them and, in particular, the very 1st WTC in London, which sadly followed the tragic loss of Lady Diana on August 31st. I still vividly remember the streets of London with mountains of flowers and the large gatherings of people from around the world in front of the Kensington Palace, expressing their love and respect for her legacy of kindness.






 World Tribology Congress 2022.

In his inaugural address at the 1st WTC, late professor Peter Jost, founding President of ITC, had very clearly outlined the importance of this event in bringing the world tribology community together and providing the means for sharing the latest research results and developments in tribology. He also pointed out that from this moment on, WTC will provide an opportunity for tribologists from all over the world to meet, greet, and make lasting friendships for years to come. As always, Peter also reminded us of the importance of tribology for increased efficiency and reliability of machine components, ultimately benefiting the world economy and hence community.

First WTC had certainly set a high standard as it was extremely well organized both scientifically and from a networking perspective. As with all other WTCs since then, the organizers of the last WTC in Beijing have further elevated the stature of WTC as being the greatest show on earth in tribology by welcoming more than 2,000 delegates over a week-long event. The next WTC will not be less glamorous as early indications suggest despite the lingering Covid-19 Pandemic. It was originally scheduled to take place on September 5-10, 2021, in Lyon, France, but due to an ongoing pandemic, it has been postponed until July 10-15, 2022. How wonderful it would have been to celebrate the 100th birthday of Late Professor Peter Jost (the founding father and the first President of ITC) along with the 7th WTC in 2021, but unfortunately, it will have to wait until next year. I am very pleased to announce that a coveted award bearing Peter’s name “Peter Jost Tribology Award” has been created by ITC, and the very first recipient of this award will be presented during the next WTC. Thanks to the superb leadership of WTC Steering Committee: Philippe Kapsa and Michel Belin from Ecole Centrale de Lyon and Philippe Vergne from INSA as well many dedicated committee members, volunteers, and sponsors, this world event is poised to top all previous WTCs in attendance and scientific content as so far more than 1,300 abstracts have been submitted for consideration. Such a strong show of interest further confirms how resilient, dedicated, and determined the world tribology community is. I do wholeheartedly thank each and every one of them for their unwavering support of WTC and for their hard work in advancing the frontiers of tribology.

Since its foundation back in 1997, WTCs have played an important role in the worldwide expansion and promotion of the tribology field. Besides many great technical talks and poster presentations, Proceedings of the WTC has served well as great reference material for future scientists and engineers. There is no doubt that this relentless pursuit of excellence in the WTC organization will continue in the coming years as we already have five strong candidates (USA, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Malaysia) under consideration for the next host country. In closing, ITC sincerely thanks the founding visionaries of the World Tribology Congress and those countries that hosted it so impeccably all these years. Of course, the greatest thanks of gratitude are due to the world tribology community for their strong support and participation.

I look forward to seeing you all in Lyon.


Offering Our Love, Empathy, and Solidarity to Humanity in These Difficult Days

COVID-19 has delivered an unimaginable toll on the public health, safety, and economic well-being of all humanity. The biggest agony is that we are powerless to control this invisible enemy as it continues to invade all corners of the world. Worst of all, there does not yet seem to be an effective solution that can slow down the spread or totally eradicate its deadly effects. In a very short while, this pandemic has brought down our vibrant lifestyle to complete halt, and changed the way we work, travel, shop, eat, or otherwise enjoy social life with family and friends. The biggest quandary nowadays is how we might stop or control its deadly impact on our society or adapt to new realities when, and until, there is a cure.  

The economic toll of COVID-19 on our society has also been enormous. Many people have lost their jobs and desperately seek government help to keep their lives going. Some countries have suffered the biggest downturn in their GDP ever. Out of desperation in all these dire situations, the whole world community is now searching for a vaccine that can stop the spread of COVID-19 or a drug therapy that can cure those who are affected.  

On the brighter side, it is very humbling to see that the whole humanity has come together in solidarity to confront this common enemy. Once again, this pandemic has brought the best out of us with a shared conciseness that we are all indeed the same and all in this together. A humble example that involved me was that a former research colleague from the other side of the globe recently contacted me, just out of the blue and insisted on shipping some face masks. Despite my objection and sincere thanks for his thoughtfulness, he dispatched 240 face masks which I have greatly appreciated. One of our next-door neighbors, waving his hands from a distance, wanted to know if we are all well/healthy and if we needed anything that they could help with. Another asked if his teenage son could go to the grocery store or fast food restaurant to pick up some food for us. I am sure all of us have similar heart-warming experiences to share.  Down in our hearts, we are really full of love and great empathy towards one another and this is beautiful. With this kind of shared values and determination, I have no doubt that we will prevail and win the battle against this deadly virus. Already, many candidate vaccines are being tested on humans around the globe and search for new drugs is also well-underway.

As we move forward in these very difficult days, the International Tribology Council offers its sincere thanks to the first responders, doctors, nurses, and other professionals for their selfless efforts in helping those who are most affected. They are truly the unsung heroes of our time. We also offer our deepest condolences to those families who have lost their love ones to the Coronavirus. There should be no doubt that we will come out of this stronger and more determined than ever to save our planet and its citizens from future perils.


A Tribute to Prof. H. Peter Jost

Prof. H. Peter Jost, the founding father of modern-day tribology and the first President of the International Tribology Council (ITC), passed away on June 7, 2016. This was certainly a very sad day for the entire tribology community. He tirelessly carried the leadership mantle of ITC until his passing and was, without any doubt, responsible for bringing the world tribology community together. Peter was also the driving force behind the highly acclaimed Jost Report, in which the word “tribology” was first coined with a clear-cut definition: “the science and technology of interacting surfaces in relative motion and of the practices related thereto”. Beyond its scientific meaning, Peter was an outspoken advocate of tribology’s economic and ecological benefits to humanity. On his many keynote addresses at international forums, he would always argue that tribology by its very definition means ”green”. In his speech to the attendees of the 4th World Tribology Congress in Kyoto, Japan, in 2009, he very elegantly explained that “mainly because, the transfer of force between two surfaces in relative motion involves friction, and friction leads to the dissipation of energy and to wear, the avoidance or diminution of which are indeed the key objectives of tribology”. Realizing its very complex and multidisciplinary nature, Peter was also very much aware of the needs for increased worldwide collaboration among tribologists as this was one of key reasons for the creation of ITC.

Peter Jost

Late Prof. H. Peter Jost; the founding father of modern-day tribology and the first President of the International Tribology Council.

Undoubtedly, his far-sighted messages from the past resonate much louder these days as the sustainability of an ecologically diverse and habitable planet for generations to come is increasingly becoming questionable. Until now, we have enjoyed a very generous and diverse planet, where life has existed for millions of years. However, things have started to change in recent decades due to much accelerated uses of non-renewable fossil fuels to meet our ever-increasing energy needs. Unfortunately, these have burdened us with greatly accelerated greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, which is now suspected as the key reason for worldwide climate change or disruptions. So, in reality, all of us are to blame for tipping the delicate balance of our ecosystem and jeopardizing the livelihood of all living species on this planet.

As tribologists, how can we help in stopping or even reversing this trend?  As Peter pointed out a long time ago, we must continue to develop and implement more effective tribological technologies and lubrication practices that can reduce GHG emissions and, at the same time, increase the efficiency and durability of future mechanical systems. In fact, the Committee who put together the Jost report for the British Government in 1966 very clearly documented the true economic and ecological benefits of tribology when properly practiced by industry. There is no question that we owe our current lifestyle to many moving mechanical systems used in transportation, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, power generation, and so on. Thanks to advanced tribological principles and very durable materials and effective lubricants that we have all developed over the years, these systems function incredibly well (think of the cars that we drive every day). Despite all these great advances, energy and material losses due to friction and wear in moving mechanical systems still account for huge economic and environmental burdens. In fact, a recent comprehensive study estimated that about 23% of all energy produced in this world is still consumed by friction and wear-related losses. Even a very small improvement in the friction and wear of future machine components can globally save enormous amounts of energy, reduce emissions, and increase system reliability, thus ultimately benefiting society.

Among all the planets in our solar system and beyond, ours is the only one where life has existed in multifarious forms for so long. The big question is: how long can we keep it that way? There is no doubt that our dependence on advanced mechanical devices that propel our modern lifestyle will continue to increase in coming years. However, while embracing such an increasingly more mobile and industrialized world, we must remember to ensure that these machines are far more efficient, durable, and green. In his closing remark at the 4th World Tribology Congress, Peter stated that “The cause of tribology is indeed a worthy cause for all tribologists and their societies to pursue, as it will help tribology to play its rightful part, not only for the benefit of science and technology, but much more importantly, for the benefit of mankind”. Undoubtedly, he was a legend and visionary leader of our time. Thanks to many dedicated scientists, engineers, and specialists of our tribology field, we the tribologists will stay the course and move forward with Peter’s legacy for a green, clean, and sustainable future.