Biorefining A Green Tribological Perspective

P. L. de Vaal, L. F. Barker, E. du Plessis and D. Crous

Abstract As a developing country, South Africa is in a unique position with regard to establishing, maintaining and expanding infrastructure to ensure compliance with international trends with respect to environmental regulations, while at the same time establishing the means to provide access to affordable energy to all its citizens to share the potential of its resources. In many respects, tribology plays an important role in saving of energy as well as ensuring that requirements with regard to protecting the environment are complied with. Green tribology can rightly be regarded as an approach which is timely and which has an impact on many activities like electricity generation, production of synthetic fuels and lubricants, mining operations and protection of the environment and its resources. Focusing on the interface between Tribology and Biorefining, several interesting possibilities open up. With the constant rise in the price of oil, alternatives to crude oil as primary energy source and as basic feedstock for fuels and chemicals are becoming more and more attainable. In this chapter an overview is provided of the above, from a South African perspective. A number of case-study

P. L. de Vaal (&) • D. Crous Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa e-mail: [email protected]

Eskom Generation Business Engineering, Johannesburg, South Africa e-mail: [email protected]

E. du Plessis

Producut Lubrication Technologies (Pty) Ltd, Post Box 2309 Silverton, 0127, South Africa e-mail: [email protected]

M. Nosonovsky and B. Bhushan (eds.), Green Tribology,

Green Energy and Technology, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-23681-5_20,

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

examples are given which indicate that a "green" approach in finding engineering solutions to tribological problems which could have a far-reaching impact on the environment. Three examples are used, namely how proper selection of tailor-made lubricants could decrease energy usage in gear-driven systems. The focus here is on the power industry, where coal-based power plants are the only economically feasible solution to the increasing demand for electricity in a developing economy with virtually no crude oil reserves. The success atttained in this endeavour should stimulate similar projects in the mining sector of the country. In the second instance, ingenious application of tribology with respect to application of specialised lubricants from a renewable source, namely plant oils, can decrease cost of lubrication and, in addition, can resolve difficult issues with regard to disposal of contaminated waste in metal cutting operations, indicating the value of a "green tribology approach''. Thirdly, combining the concept of biorefineries, tribology and the ability to synthesise products to suit specific requirements, including formulation of lubricants and fuels, can lead to substantially improved products, impacting in a positive way on the environment.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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