Renewable Energy

The tribology of renewable sources of energy is a relatively new field of tri-bology. Today, there are meetings and sessions devoted to the tribology of wind turbines at almost every tribology conference, and they cover certain issues specific for these applications. Unlike in the case of the biomimetic approach and environment-friendly lubrication, it is not the manufacturing or operation, but the very application of the tribological system which involves "green" issues, namely, environmentally friendly energy production. The following issues can be mentioned.

1. Wind power turbines have a number of specific problems related to their tri-bology, and constitute a well-established area of tribological research. These issues include water contamination, electric arcing on generator bearings, issues related to the wear of the mainshaft and gearbox bearings and gears, the erosion of blades (solid particles, cavitation, rain, hail stones), etc. [43].

2. Tidal power turbines are another important way of producing renewable energy, which involves certain tribiological problems. Tidal power turbines are especially popular in Europe (particularly, in the U.K.), which remains the leader in this area, although several potential sites in North America have been suggested. There are several specific tribological issues related to tidal power turbines, such as their lubrication (seawater, oils, and greases), erosion, corrosion, and biofouling, as well as the interaction between these modes of damage [6].

3. Besides tidal, the ocean water flow and wave energy and river flow energy (without dams) can be used with the application of special turbines, such as the Gorlov helical turbine [35], which provides the same direction of rotation independent of the direction of the current flow. These applications also involve specific tribological issues.

4. Geothermal energy plants are used in the US (in particular, at the Pacific coast and Alaska); however, their use is limited to the geographical areas at the edges of tectonic plates [65]. In 2007, they produced 2.7 GW of energy in the US, with Philippines (2.0 GW) and Indonesia (1.0 GW) in the second and third places [7]. There are several issues related to the tribology of geothermal energy sources which are discussed in the literature.

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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