What is a Tribologist?

Any time there is movement between two objects, there is friction. Two things rubbing against each other causes wear and potential breakdown. Try rubbing your hands together to see what we mean. That’s friction in action.

Tribology is the study of the motion of objects and how friction impacts those objects, and a tribologist (trai-baa-luh-jist) is someone who works in the field of tribology. In other words, they are the smart kids in science class. And here at Power Oil Center, we’re proud to say we have tribologists making sure our fluids are the best available.

Why is This Important?

What is a TribologistMachinery and engines are made up of a lot of moving parts. As those parts move together, they can wear on each other and make your engine less efficient, or worse, break down completely. That costs you money and is a very bad thing. With the proper lubrication, though, those parts are protected against the harmful effects of friction.

Did you know? A typical gas combustion engine, like the one in your car or truck, has over 10,000 moving parts. These parts need some sort of lubrication to do what they’re supposed to do with the most efficiency and least wear. But depending on what the part does, it needs a different type of lubrication. Some require oil flowing quickly around it. Others require a thicker grease, that stays in place better. Still others, such as brakes or power steering systems, need a specialized fluid. Even the fuel in your engine may need something to improve performance and last longer.

What Does a Tribologist Do?

Tribologists understand the importance of how friction impacts moving parts. To gain this expertise they must go through rigorous training and become certified. Using knowledge from many disciplines such as mechanical engineering, manufacturing, chemistry, physics and more, tribologists study wear, friction and lubrication to see how interacting objects behave in relative motion. This helps them understand the entire tribosystem. Yes, tribosystem is a real word!

What is a Tribosystem?

A tribosystem is the study of moving parts and what helps or hurts that movement. Simply put, it’s “the study of how everything works together.” An engine and the fluids that lubricate it are an example of a tribosystem. For a tribologist, it is important to understand the full tribosystem to develop and run the tests necessary to make sure that the whole system works correctly.

A tribologist will look at how well a specific fluid works in a particular application or engine. They will study the engine, develop fluids for that engine and then run tests to make sure the parts are moving efficiently. If it isn’t up to par, they re-formulate the fluid until it is doing exactly what that engine needs it to do. 

Does Testing Make a Difference?

In the same way that sports drinks replace electrolytes and help athletes, fluids for your engine help it work better. If the fluid is performing at its best, that means the engine will also perform at its best. Not only does that help the engine last longer, but you’re also getting the best performance, the best power, and the best fuel economy. Plus, with optimized fluids, the interval between oil changes is longer.

Many people think all motor oil or engine oil is the same. They look at a bottle of full synthetic 10W30 and assume it is the same as any other bottle on the shelf.

In some cases, they are made for general usage. They’re formulated to have a mixture of oil (conventional, semi-synthetic, or full synthetic) and are mixed with additives to serve a general-purpose. But that is just it. They are designed to serve a general purpose – made to work acceptably in a lot of different applications. They are not, however, made to optimize a particular type of usage. If you change your own oil it’s imperative to have the recommended oil for your vehicle in the oil change kit.

What is a TribologistWhat makes premium engine oil different from these generic products is that they are formulated specifically for a certain use. For example, oil for an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) motor is designed for use in extreme conditions, such as dirt, dust and heavy load. That fluid will have the mixture and additives to counteract those factors. In the long run, it will protect the engine better, make it run better and help it last longer.

Our tribologists work closely with our other science majors like our chemists and engineers to develop and test fluids that make your engine — whether it is a car, truck, ATV, motorcycle or any other vehicle — run better.

How Does Someone Become a Tribologist?

There are various organizations to join that will administer a test to certify someone as a tribologist. For example, the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (SLTE) is a U.S.-based entity that people interested in the field can join. Those guys are the smartest of the smart kids. To become a certified tribologist with SLTE, you must score at least 70 percent on the three-hour, 150 question exam. If successful, it is good for three years before needing to be re-certified. Study up!

Obviously, it takes a lot of smarts and dedication to achieve the title of tribologist. That is one thing that sets Power Oil Center apart from so many other fluid providers. We bring in the best people to make sure the products we offer are the absolute best in the industry.

What Does This Mean for You?

Having the expertise of a tribologist to verify the quality of our products ensures that everything you purchase from Power Oil Center can be trusted to keep your engine running and working at its best. We’ve done the work to make sure that every individual product and oil change kit we sell is the right fit for your vehicle.

And, with this level of expertise, you can count on us to give you the information you need to complete any engine job. We’re passionate about sharing our knowledge and the advice you need to maintain your vehicle.

To check out our full line of high-quality, tribologist-approved products and oil change kits, visit our product page.