Principal investigator: Albert Segall

University: The Pennsylvania State University

Industry partners: Morgan Advanced Materials and Technology, Inc.

Graphene has been identified as having a strong potential to significantly improve the wear and friction performance of advanced materials in a variety of industrial settings. With substantial growth of industrial production of this novel substance over the last decade, this material is poised to significantly and positively impact energy efficiency, as well as component longevity and performance. However, a number of key and interrelated manufacturing and tribological issues must still be addressed. For instance, while graphene is typically defined as a single layer of pure graphite, commercially available grades vary in the number of the layers, lateral dimensions, and/or chemical purity. The underlying manufacturing issues and effects of such variations on performance are generally not well understood. Accordingly, this project will focus on developing an understanding of the optimal graphene types and characteristics and manufacturing methods to incorporate them in resin-bonded carbon composites used industrially in seals and bearings applications. Moreover, the proposed research will quantify the effects of various aspects of graphene on the resulting wear and frictional properties of working prototype composites. Given the critical needs for sustainability, improved energy efficiency, and a reduced carbon footprint, reduction of friction and associated parasitic energy losses, as well as improvement of wear and component life can have significant impacts on a wide range of commercial products manufactured in Pennsylvania. As proposed, the project will support one graduate and an undergraduate (senior thesis) who will work with Morgan Advanced Materials’ Carbon Science Centre of Excellence (CoE) in State College, PA to investigate and optimize graphene/carbon-composite formulations. Ultimately, this research will support component production for seals and bearings applications, as well as develop vital tribological test methods applicable to manufactured products throughout the Commonwealth.