Lubricants

A core area of interest for tribologists, lubricant research is a key area of innovation that PCS has been supporting for over 30 years across a plethora of industries.

Where there is movement in a system you will almost always find a lubricant of some kind. From snowboards to CNC machines, and from your knee joint to the CV joint of a car, all require lubricants to operate reliably and efficiently. That lubricants are so widely used in so many different applications means that there is no single way to make a lubricant, as they often have to perform many different tasks. For some they must cool as well as reduce friction, for some they must stop foaming or corrosion, whilst others might need to survive extreme pressures or temperatures. With all these competing needs, lubricant design is highly application specific, so researchers utilise lab equipment such as the MTM, ETM, EHD and MPR to help develop lubricants and test them at representative conditions.

Going forward, tribology will be as important as ever in the design and development of lubricants. This innovative work is integral to improving efficiency and reliability in systems and making sure they can last the test of time. Tribologists play a key role in making systems more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and in doing so are helping to protect the future of the planet.

Lubricants industry research areas include:

  • Gearbox lubricants
  • Wind turbine lubricants (efficiency and WECs)
  • Biolubricants
  • Metalworking fluids
  • Greases for electric cars

Lubricants Industry includes the following:

Additives

Additives

Developing performance enhancing additives for lubricants. Includes anything from extreme pressure additives to viscosity index improvers.

Biolubricants

Biolubricants

Improving the performance of new, more environmentally friendly lubricants. Developing them to perform as well as, or better than traditional lubricants.

Grease

Grease

Greases have to perform in a range of applications such as gearboxes, trains, seals and bearings.

Oils

Oils

Found in every aspect of manufacturing from food conveyors to wind turbine gearboxes, oils have to perform optimally under a vast array of conditions.

Instruments for the Lubricants Industry

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Lubricants Industry Articles & Papers

Paper

Study of pressure dependence on sinterable zirconia nanoparticle tribofilm growth

Tribological sintering of antiwear films as a function of applied load has been investigated using a novel zirconia nanoparticle antiwear …

Tribological sintering of antiwear films as a function of applied load has been investigated using a novel zirconia nanoparticle antiwear additive. Spherical five nanometer diameter zirconium oxide (ZrO2) nanoparticles are dispersed in polyalphaolefin (PAO) synthetic base oil and tested between AISI 52100 steel counterfaces in a ball-on-disk tribometer with a slide-to-roll ratio of 50%. The apparatus allows tribofilm thickness data to be tracked in-situ at set intervals, and tribofilms reaching a maximum thickness of 160 nm have been measured. A tribofilm formation dependence on load has been found, as higher loads assist initial growth and final thickness. Contrary to the chemical tribofilm formation processes of traditional antiwear additives such as zinc dialkyldithiophosphate (ZDDP), testing suggests the primary mechanism of tribofilm growth for zirconium oxide is nanoparticle adsorption followed by particle accumulation and sintering. A strong correlation between friction force, tribofilm width and Hertzian contact theory has been found. Initial tribofilm growth rate grew exponentially with applied load, whereas isolation of the linear growth phase yielded a linear relationship. Mechanical stylus, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) are employed to investigate the roughness, morphology and chemical nature of the sintered tribofilms, respectively.

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Paper

Surface Adsorption and Lubrication Properties of Plant and Dairy Proteins: A Comparative Study

The aim of this work was to compare the surface adsorption and lubrication properties of plant and dairy proteins. Whey …

The aim of this work was to compare the surface adsorption and lubrication properties of plant and dairy proteins. Whey protein isolate (WPI) and pea protein isolate (PPI) were chosen as model animal and plant proteins, respectively, and various protein concentrations (0.1–100 mg/mL) were studied with/without heat treatment (90 °C/60 min). Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) experiments were performed on hydrophilic (gold) and hydrophobic polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) sensors, with or without a mucin coating, latter was used to mimic the oral surface. Soft tribology using PDMS tribopairs in addition to wettability measurements, physicochemical characterization (size, charge, solubility) and gel electrophoresis were performed. Soluble fractions of PPI adsorbed to significantly larger extent on PDMS surfaces, forming more viscous films as compared to WPI regardless of heat treatment. Introducing a mucin coating on a PDMS surface led to a decrease in binding of the subsequent dietary protein layers, with PPI still adsorbing to a larger extent than WPI. Such large hydrated mass of PPI resulted in superior lubrication performance at lower protein concentration (≤10 mg/mL) as compared to WPI. However, at 100 mg/mL, WPI was a better lubricant than PPI, with the former showing the onset of elastohydrodynamic lubrication. Enhanced lubricity upon heat treatment was attributed to the increase in apparent viscosity. Fundamental insights from this study reveal that pea protein at higher concentrations demonstrates inferior lubricity than whey protein and could result in unpleasant mouthfeel, and thus may inform future replacement strategies when designing sustainable food products.

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