ESR Technology to Drive Sustainable Solid Lubricant Development for Space

ESR Technology is proud to announce the award of a contract from the European Space Agency to develop a new solid lubricant solution for long-life space mechanism applications.

To meet increasingly demanding performance requirements in terms of mission duration, telecom satellite mechanisms (and many others too) have for many years employed solid lubrication, typically very thin films (a fraction of the thickness of a human hair) of low shear strength metals such as lead (Pb) applied by magnetron sputtering. Typical applications include ball bearings and gears of Solar Array Drive Mechanisms (SADMs) and associated actuators, deployment actuators/damping devices and antenna pointing/trimming mechanisms.

Lead BearingBearing

However, concerns over the environmental and health aspects associated with the use of lead in many industrial applications, including for space, continue to grow. In 2018 lead was identified as a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) by the ECHA (European Chemicals Agency), and whilst not imminent, there is a high likelihood of its prohibition under the EU REACH legislation for environmental reasons. Latest indications are that lead prohibition could come within the next 5 years.

In anticipation of the need to migrate current telecom space applications onto alternative, equally high performance, but more sustainable solid lubricants, the European Space agency has recently kicked-off a two year lubricant development project which is led by ESR Technology. Working alongside our project partners, Light Coatings Ltd and The University of Southampton, in this project ESR Technology will develop an enhanced, lead-free solid lubricant for space use; a task which will draw on the collective expertise of the team in solid lubricant development and production, assessment of lubricants operating in vacuum, analytical capabilities and productisation for the space market.

For more information on this project and how ESR Technology is leading the development of sustainable solid lubricants for space applications, please contact Principal Project Scientist This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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