Laskut, Finland – New technologies that reduce friction could a;sp reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 61 per cent, according to a joint study by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and the Argonne National Laboratory in the U.S.

No less than one-third of a car’s fuel consumption is spent in overcoming friction, and this friction loss has a direct impact on both fuel consumption and emissions, the study said. New technology can reduce friction by anywhere from 10 to 80 per cent in various components, which could reduce consumption and emissions by 18 per cent within the next five to ten years, and up to 61 per cent within 15 to 25 years.

Of a car engine’s energy output from fuel, 33 per cent is spent in exhaust, 29 per cent in cooling, and 38 per cent in mechanical energy, of which air resistance accounts for 5 per cent and friction losses account for 33 per cent. With current technology, only 21.5 per cent of the energy output of the fuel is used to actually move the car, and the rest is wasted. In 2009, a total of 208,000 million litres of fuel was burned in cars worldwide just to overcome friction.

The study found that friction can be reduced with new technologies such as new surface coatings, surface textures, lubricant additives, low-viscosity lubricants, ionic liquids, and low-friction tires inflated to higher-than-normal pressures.

Friction can be reduced by 10 to 50 per cent using new surface technologies such as diamond-like carbon materials and nanocomposites, while laser texturing that etches on materials to guide lubricant flow and internal pressures can reduce it by 25 to 50 per cent, and fuel consumption by 4 per cent. Ionic liquids are made up of electrically-charged molecules that repel one another, enabling a further 25 to 50 per cent friction reduction.

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