Harry van Leeuwen received the 2021/2022 Sarton Medal from the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture of Ghent University on Thursday 28 April 2022. He is a member of the Power & Flow Group, managed by Niels Deen, in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at TU Eindhoven.
Harry van Leeuwen is also a board member of the Tribology section of the Bond voor Materialenkennis.
The medal was awarded during a two-day congress, entitled “Tribology of the Low Countries“, at the historic grounds of Saint Peter’s Abbey in Ghent. Tribology has been the name of this interdisciplinary science since 1966, which deals with friction and wear, and thus also with lubrication and lubricants.
The laureate presentation
In his lecture, Van Leeuwen discussed, among other things, the forgotten role in tribology of Leyden physicist Petrus van Musschenbroek (1692-1761). The latter not only invented the Leyden jar, the predecessor of the capacitor, but designed and used a very accurate device to measure friction, which he called a ’tribometer’ (tribo = friction, from the Greek). He achieved outstanding results with his device and came to most remarkable conclusions, going against his contemporaries. In graph form, some of Van Musschenbroek’s results yield a so-called Stribeck curve, something Richard Stribeck did not publish about until 1902.
This Sarton lecture was elaborated in a thorough publication: Leeuwen, H. van, 2022, “Milestones of Tribology in the Low Countries’, Sartoniana, Vol. 34/35, 2021-2022, pp. 189-230