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ESR Technology Signs Key Tribology Contract with European Space Agency

4th March 2022

ESR Technology is delighted to announce the signing of the Call-off Order No.2 Frame Contract with The European Space Agency (ESA). This contract supports the operation and research activities of the European Space Tribology Laboratory (ESTL) throughout 2022. ESTL is ESA’s external laboratory, operated on its behalf by ESR Technology and widely recognised as the centre of excellence for vacuum and space tribology research within Europe.

ESTL specialises in providing quality solutions to friction, wear and lubrication issues relating to the precision mechanisms that operate in the demanding vacuum environment of space. We have also successfully spun-out our expertise to support terrestrial vacuum systems operated here on Earth. Specific R&D areas of focus covered under the present contract include:

  • Development of improved solid (dry) lubricants for vacuum applications, including lower cost lubricants, moisture-resistant films, and extended lifetimes under vacuum conditions.
  • Mapping the degradation of vacuum fluid lubricants using novel mass-spectrometer techniques, allowing for improved health monitoring of fluid lubricated mechanisms.
  • Studies of surface pre-treatments for improved fluid lubricant performance under vacuum, including passivation techniques and additive pre-conditioning.
  • Solid lubricant transfer film behaviours at cryogenic temperatures, including next-generation self-lubricating materials.
  • Hybrid lubrication behaviours of MoS2-fluid films under varying vacuum environments to identify optimal lubricant volumes for extended vacuum life.
  • Production of guidelines to be used by the space industry for qualification of new fluid lubricants in space applications.
  • Delivery of a Modular Multi-Chamber Test Rig (MCR) allowing for up to six bearing tests to be performed under vacuum conditions in parallel.

For more information, either on these subjects or more generally on how ESTL can help you with your vacuum tribology concerns, please contact ESTL Manager Mr Simon Lewis, or Principal Project Scientist Dr Michael Buttery.