Status: Need is Closed

Dry Lubricants suitable for use in a tribological system

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Need was closed on
Sep 4

Subsea7 are looking for novel dry lubricants which can be applied in large quantities to kilometre long applications in a tribological system; in which the sliding interface between steel and nylon drives the fabrication schedule. Reducing the friction enables longer lengths to be fabricated.


Subsea 7 use nylon spacers in pipeline applications to provide a low friction interface between steel pipes. The contact area of each individual spacer is relatively small (~1/9 X Pi  X ODcentraliser x 50mm, so for example a 12” centraliser the contact area is ~5653mm2 ), however there are thousands of individual nylon spacers, spaced between 1.5m and 4.5m apart and therefore the friction drives the required pull force. A dry lubricant that can be applied into the interface between the nylon spacer and the steel pipe will reduce the pull force and/or extend the length that can be pulled.

The coefficient of friction between the steel and nylon surfaces is currently 0.47. Subsea7 have investigated a number of methods to reduce this friction of this sliding interface. These include; solvents, lubricants, different (ball) bearing geometries etc. The ball bearings methodology worked well, however issues exist in sourcing sufficiently large quantities. This has driven the consideration of the use of dry lubricants, such as graphite. Dry lubricants are of high interest, as it is undesirable to contaminate the existing materials during the fabrication process. Once the fabrication process is complete the pipeline environment containing the steel and nylon will be sealed and therefore a lubricant which will not cause corrosion of the pipelines is crucial.

Subsea 7 are keen to investigate all forms of dry lubricants and therefore open this challenge to experts from the area of tribology who can provide novel solutions which can be easily applied to the steel/nylon interface to reduce the coefficient of friction to around 0.2.

Key success Criteria
  • Dry lubricants i.e. graphite
  • CoF <0.2
  • Potential to scale up to large manufacture for mulitple kilometre pipelines
  • Must not form corrosive by products in presence of moisture / oxygen
Possible Approaches
  • Graphite or other dry lubricant technologies
Approaches not of Interest
  • Wet lubricants
  • Bearing based solutions
  • Dry lubricants with known corrosive byproducts
Due Date
Jul 26
Items to be submitted

We are looking for concise, non-confidential proposals. The proposal should:

  • Describe the technical approach. A strong technical content is preferred and should ideally include; information on the technological readiness of the proposal, any proof of concept data, reference to any peer reviewed publications  and potential route to commercialization.
  • Include a description of the responding organisation or team and their experience


Please use the Respond button in order to submit your proposal. We recommend:

  • Including a concise abstract summarising your submission
  • Attaching your proposal
  • Attaching any additional documents


Please note that only non-confidential information can be accepted. By submitting a response you confirm that the response does not contain any confidential information.

Gallery Moderator(s)
Oliver Worsfold
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