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Tag: Tribology
  • Assessing the Mechanisms Thought to Govern Ice and Snow Friction and Their Interplay with Substrate Brittle Behavior

    Abstract: Sliding friction on ice and snow is characteristically low at temperatures common on Earth’s surface. This slipperiness underlies efficient sleds, winter sports, and the need for specialized tires. Friction can also play micro-mechanical role affecting ice compressive and crushing strengths. Researchers have proposed several mechanisms thought to govern ice and snow friction, but directly validating the underlying mechanics has been difficult. This may be changing, as instruments capable of micro-scale measurements and imaging are now being brought to bear on friction studies. Nevertheless, given the broad regimes of practical interest (interaction length, temperature, speed, pressure, slider properties, etc.), it may be unrealistic to expect that a single mechanism accounts for why ice and snow are slippery. Because bulk ice, and the ice grains that constitute snow, are solids near their melting point at terrestrial temperatures, most research has focused on whether a lubricating water film forms at the interface with a slider. However, ice is extremely brittle, and dry-contact abrasion and wear at the front of sliders could prevent or delay a transition to lubricated contact. Also, water is a poor lubricant, and lubricating films thick enough to separate surface asperities may not form for many systems of interest. This article aims to assess our knowledge of the mechanics underlying ice and snow friction.
  • Evidence that Abrasion Can Govern Snow Kinetic Friction

    Abstract: The long-accepted theory to explain why snow is slippery postulates self-lubrication: frictional heat from sliding melts and thereby lubricates the contacting snow grains. We recently published micro-scale interface observations that contradicted this explanation: contacting snow grains abraded and did not melt under a polyethylene slider, despite low friction values. Here we provide additional observational and theoretical evidence that abrasion can govern snow kinetic friction. We obtained coordinated infrared, visible-light and scanning-electron micrographs that confirm that the evolving shapes observed during our tribometer tests are contacting snow grains polished by abrasion, and that the wear particles can sinter together and fill the adjacent pore spaces. Furthermore, dry-contact abrasive wear reasonably predicts the evolution of snow-slider contact area and sliding-heat-source theory confirms that contact temperatures would not reach 0°C during our tribometer tests. Importantly, published measurements of interface temperatures also indicate that melting did not occur during field tests on sleds and skis. Although prevailing theory anticipates a transition from dry to lubricated contact along a slider, we suggest that dry-contact abrasion and heat flow can prevent this transition from occurring for snow-friction scenarios of practical interest.
  • Revisiting Mechanics of Ice–Skate Friction: From Experiments at a Skating Rink to a Unified Hypothesis

    Abstract: The mechanics underlying ice–skate friction remain uncertain despite over a century of study. In the 1930s, the theory of self-lubrication from frictional heat supplanted an earlier hypothesis that pressure melting governed skate friction. More recently, researchers have suggested that a layer of abraded wear particles or the presence of quasi-liquid molecular layers on the surface of ice could account for its slipperiness. Here, we assess the dominant hypotheses proposed to govern ice– skate friction and describe experiments conducted in an indoor skating rink aimed to provide observations to test these hypotheses. Our results indicate that the brittle failure of ice under rapid compression plays a strong role. Our observations did not confirm the presence of full contact water films and are more consistent with the presence of lubricating ice-rich slurries at discontinuous high-pressure zones (HPZs). The presence of ice-rich slurries supporting skates through HPZs merges pressure-melting, abrasion and lubricating films as a unified hypothesis for why skates are so slippery across broad ranges of speeds, temperatures and normal loads. We suggest tribometer experiments to overcome the difficulties of investigating these processes during actual skating trials.