Energy Savings in the Philippines through Tribology

Energy Savings in the Philippines through Tribology is my class report and I thought it might be good to share it here.


In a soot-filled traffic jam designed to give lung cancer to the poorest inhabitants of Manila who cannot afford the luxury of air-conditioning, you would find first world vehicles on its last stretches – squeezed for the remaining life it can give and proudly displaying its insignia of Chinese or Hiragana characters from its former glory down to its beaten life as a hand-me-down, refurbished vehicle in Manila.

The Philippines is proud to recycle vehicles that would have been deemed as a carbon-dioxide-emitting monster worthy of only the junkyard in other sane countries. Take for example our world-famous Jeepneys. When these vehicles are up for repair, they would go to the nearest “Talyer” (sidewalk informal repair shop) and will be successfully repaired and sent away chugging by a person who knows Mechanical Science and Engineering by hands-on experience because if done otherwise, in the hands of an educated person with a university degree, the cost of repair will exceed the cost of the vehicle. One thing, for sure, however, is that no matter how uneducated the Talyer manager is when it comes to tribology, he knows that lubrication is another 5-year extension for these 20-year-old vehicles.

As much as tribology is a science for understanding and controlling friction, wear, and lubrication of interacting surfaces in relative motion (1) it is also a matter of social importance in the Philippines. But how do we make simple individuals and key decision makers in the country understand and promote tribology? The key motivation might be similar to the one brought about by the Jost Report to the British Industry: economics (or simply, money).

This report aims to compare the annual energy consumption to overcome friction for an average passenger car in the Philippines and the energy savings brought about by tribology. The calculations presented in this report will be based on the methodology developed by Holmberg et al (2) for the calculation of the impact of friction on passenger cars.


Energy Consumption in Transportation

Based on 2010 data, the transport sector in the Philippines consumed about 8,044 kToe (3) (Total Final Energy Consumption) per annum and is now at a staggering 10,591 kToe (3) – taking up 36% (the biggest share) of the overall Total Final Consumption of 29,601 kToe (3) according to Table 1.

The number of motor vehicles registered in the Philippines is 961,842, making about 80% (4) of the sector’s total fuel consumption. About 30% of the total energy use in transportation is used to overcome friction and energy due to wear is 10% of the energy lost to friction (5).


Friction and Wear

In transportation vehicles, some surfaces are in contact and in relative motion. An example is a piston inside a cylinder where the piston touches the wall of the cylinder.

Friction is the resistance of two bodies in contact to move. It is a system property dependent on the materials, coating, lubricant, contact area, geometry, stress, surface roughness, environment, atmosphere, sliding speed and mode and many other factors. To overcome friction and get things moving, energy is spent.

Moreover, not all surfaces are flat, some materials are harder than others, and some materials are subject to corrosion and stresses among others. Hence, wear is expected. It is the removal or movement of material from one body when it is made to touch with an object in relative motion. Wear can result in catastrophic failure, resulting to more energy spent for repair or reproduction of parts.

Table 1. Total Final Consumption in the Philippines (2015), kToe (Reference: IEA)


Traditional method of reducing friction and wear

The traditional way of reducing friction in vehicles in the Philippines are lubricants made from mineral-based oils and synthetic-based oils. These lubricants wet and attach itself to the steel surface to reduce friction, prevent or minimize tear, transport debris away from the interface, and provide cooling.

The key factors in lubricant effectiveness include its fluid shear properties (i.e. viscosity), its chemistry (reactivity with the surface, boundary film-forming properties, extreme pressure constituents, shear strength), and its thermal conductivity/heat capacity.

An invention by a Filipino, Juanito A. Simon (6) was claimed to be a breakthrough in lubrication technology developed to adhere to metals on a molecular level such that it becomes an integral part of the metal surface structures, allowing it to be protected even when the machines are first started and during warm-up.


Energy Cost attributed to Friction and Wear in Motor Vehicles

Based on the data presented in Table 2, the energy cost attributed to friction and wear are shown in Table 3.

Table 2. Data for Energy Cost and Savings Calculation

Table 3. Energy Cost Attributed to Friction and Wear

Energy Savings attributed to Tribology

According to Holmberg, by taking advantage of the new surface, materials, and lubrication technologies for friction reduction and wear protection in vehicles, energy losses due to friction and wear could potentially be reduced by 18% in the short term (8 years) (5). This is equivalent to 577 million pesos. The details are presented in Table 4.

Table 4. Energy Savings Attributed to Tribology






  1. Jost H P (ed.). Lubrication (Tribology)–A report on the present position and industry’s needs. Department of Education and Science, H. M. Stationary Office, London, UK, 1966
  2. Holmberg K, Andersson   P,  Erdemir. Global energy consumption due to friction in passenger cars.  Tribology International 47: 221–234 (2012).
  4. Philippine Energy Plan 2007-2014. Manila
  5. Holmberg, K. & Erdemir, A. Friction (2017) 5: 263.
  6. US Patent No. 5453209
  7. Image Reference:


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Paula Lapizar

Chemical Engineer. Daughter. Sister. Lover. Tree-Hugger. Bargain Hunter
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Paula Lapizar

Chemical Engineer. Daughter. Sister. Lover. Tree-Hugger. Bargain Hunter

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