Professor Peter Jost CBE HonFREng
President, International Tribology Council and World Tribology Congress

Professor Peter Jost is preeminent in tribology (the study of friction), which he conceived, developed, applied and promoted with exceptional vigour during his 70-year career. A distinguished contributor to professional and public life, there can hardly be another British engineer with more worldwide honours and decorations, nor anyone near his age more active in promoting engineering.

It is not, of course, literally true that he has made the world spin a little more smoothly. However, separate German, USA, Canadian, Chinese, UK and Japanese surveys, based on his groundbreaking 1966 study for the Department of Education and Science and his subsequent papers, have concluded that tribology, the interdisciplinary science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion, mitigates costly friction and wear effects to the enormous extent of 1.1% to 1.4% of gross domestic product. Invisible to most, its best practice application typically yields fifty-fold returns on spend. The UK alone now has at least 11 professors of tribology, and it is increasingly being applied in medicine, dentistry and nanotechnology.

His interest began as an engineering student in Liverpool and Manchester. While general manager of international lubricants company Trier Bros, his innovative steam machinery lubrication method prevented scale formation in boiler tubes (which would cause them to burst) and remained paramount until steel plants phased out steam power. He then created several companies. Centralube designs sophisticated, critical lubrication and allied systems for applications including steel mills, refineries, space vehicles, forges, Type 45 Destroyers and the UK’s new aircraft carriers. K.S. Paul created high-technology coatings and lubricants, including a versatile metallic-organic material, winning a Queen’s Award for Technology.

As the world’s first steelworks lubrication engineering consultant, Peter brought substantial operational improvements and cost savings to the field in the UK, with international take-up in USA and Germany where he consequently received the country’s Officer Cross of Order of Merit.

Following his very successful industrial career, he recently co-launched Green Tribology and remains very active supporting tribology matters, including organising the international celebrations at Buckingham Palace for the Jost Report’s (Lubrication (tribology) education and research) 50th anniversary. Having recently handed on day-to-day responsibilities for the International Tribology Council, the Tribology Gold Medal and World Tribology Congress, he continues as President, his role since 1973.

He has been honoured in 18 countries and received state recognition from six. He holds Honorary Fellowships from 11 national professional engineering or tribological bodies, and was President of the Institution of Production Engineers, Vice-President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and a member of the former Council of Engineering Institutions. He was a member of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee for over 25 years and has served on many technology committees. He received the Royal Academy of Engineering Sustained Achievement Award in 2013 and has been awarded honorary doctorates at six UK and five international universities.

Professor Jost has authored more than 150 publications and has been Honorary Editor of Springer’s peer-reviewed international journal, Friction , since 2014.

*Written before Professor Jost sadly passed away on 7 June 2016.