Sixty years after he launched a whole new field of engineering, Dr Peter Jost is to be honoured with one of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s top accolades – the Sustained Achievement Award – for his vision and achievements in tribology, the science and engineering of interacting moving surfaces. What might appear to be mundane issues of friction and lubrication are now understood to have applications way beyond engineering, from medicine and dentistry to nanotechnology. He will receive the award on 29 October at the Academy’s annual Hinton Lecture.

Tribology is central to managing the costly effects of friction and wear, as confirmed by separate surveys done in Germany, the USA, Canada, China, the UK and Japan. Each country concluded that investing in tribology could save up to 1.4% of GDP.

As a student apprentice, Dr Jost won the Sir John Larking Medal for his Measurement of Surface Finish Paper. In 2009, still very active following a successful industrial career, he co-launched the concept of Green Tribology, paving the way for the first  Green Tribology World Congress  with 2,000 attendees.

General Manager of international lubricants company Trier Bros at 29, he developed an innovative steam machinery lubrication method. This oil-free aqueous colloidal graphite lubrication system saved energy and water by preventing the boiler tubes scaling up, which had often caused them to burst in the past. British Petroleum adopted the new system at its five new refineries, as did Shell Tankers and the lubrication system became essential until reciprocating steam plant became obsolete.

One of Dr Jost’s companies, Centralube, designed sophisticated, mission-critical engineering lubrication and allied systems for steel mills, refineries, space vehicles and forges, and for ships such as the Class T45 Destroyers and the new aircraft carriers. Another, K S Paul, created and developed high technology coatings and lubricants including Poly-Butyl-Cuprysil (PBC), a versatile metallic-organic material winning the company a 1988 Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement.

Centralube’s ferrous industry interests led to Jost becoming the world’s first steelworks lubrication engineering consultant. He resolved many design problems at Richard Thomas & Baldwin’s new Llanwern integrated steelworks and his lubricant specification changes and integrated lubrication distribution systems resulted in substantial operational improvements and cost savings. International take-up included German and American steel works.

Dr Jost’s influential advice to the UK government included the very significant 1966 DES Jost Report, which demonstrated that friction and avoidable wear were costing the UK huge sums of money every year and resulted in the UK setting up several national centres for tribology. He has authored more than 150 publications include a critical patent and a still classified paper.

Dr Ian Nussey OBE FREng, who nominated Dr Jost for the award, says:

“Applying tribology saves energy and improves the reliability of systems like engines, gearboxes, human joint implants, manufacturing processes and ship propulsion. Having articulated the concept, Peter comprehensively practised and promoted it. Sixty years on, his influence on world-wide adoption is unabated.”

Dr Jost says:

“In an age in which new technologies are cascading upon us at an increasing pace, recognition of the effects of multidisciplinary generic technologies, such as tribology, is essential to evolve sound policies for tomorrow’s engineering. I am proud to be only the ninth recipient of this honour since its inception, looking upon it as a manifestation that the Academy is a forward looking body in our rapidly changing world.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Academy's Sustained Achievement Award (formerly Lifetime Achievement Award) was first presented in 2005, and is awarded to an engineer, normally resident in the UK, whose sustained achievements over a number of projects have had a profound impact upon their engineering discipline.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: Jane Sutton