Composite polymers: How do they perform in water “tribocorrosion”


Polymer based composites are considered as one of the most important engineering materials for naval applications. They can be used in the superstructures, decks, bulkheads, advanced mast systems, propellers, propulsion shafts, rudders, pipes, pumps, valves, machinery and other equipment on large ships. In the majority of these applications these composites are subjected to mechanical loading in a corrosive environment. Thus their performance and/or lifetime is strongly dependent on both of these factors. In this application a methodology was developed to evaluate the effect of the corrosive environment (seawater) on the tribological performance of composite polymers is sliding contacts.  


A Basalt-S2 was used to measure the friction between polymer composite blocks, having different compositions and a metallic countermaterial (toll steel bearing). The aim is to evaluate how the degradation (corrosion and wear) of both the composite and the metal influences the tribo-systems properties. The influence of chloride ions, which are known to accelerate corrosion, were investigated by comparing the friction of the tribosystem when sliding in distilled water and in seawater. A µSurf confocal microscope was used to measure the wear damage on both the ring and blocks.               



  • The friction of polymer composites in distilled and seawater were measured.
  • The effect of the corrosive environment on friction can be recorded.
  • Changes in the evolution of the friction can be linked to the formation of corrosive products on the contacting interface.
  • Comparison between different materials, motions (unidirectional or reciprocating), speeds, and geometries is possible with the Basalt-S2.



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