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

Rheological and Wetting Properties of Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EALs) for Application in Stern Tube Seals

The use of Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EALs) for stern tube lubrication is increasing. Although the machine components of a sailing …

The use of Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EALs) for stern tube lubrication is increasing. Although the machine components of a sailing vessel are designed to operate together with mineral oil-based lubricants, these are being replaced by the less environmentally harmful EALs. Little is known about the rheological performance of EALs in particular at the high shear rates that occur in stern tube seals. In this study, the viscosity and wetting properties of a set of different EALs is analysed and compared to traditional mineral oil-based lubricants using a set of experimental techniques. Some of the EALs present Newtonian behavior whereas other show shear thinning. No significant difference in surface tension was observed between the different lubricants.

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Paper

In-situ Observations of the Effect of the ZDDP Tribofilm Growth on Micropitting

The ongoing trend for using ever lower viscosities of lubricating oils, with the aim of improving the efficiency of mechanical …

The ongoing trend for using ever lower viscosities of lubricating oils, with the aim of improving the efficiency of mechanical systems, means that machine components are required to operate for longer periods under thin film, mixed lubrication conditions where the risk of surface damage is increased. For this reason, the role of zinc dialkyldithiophosphate (ZDDP) antiwear lubricant additive has become increasingly important in order to provide adequate surface protection. It is known that due to its exceptional effectiveness in reducing surface wear, ZDDP may promote micropitting by preventing adequate running-in of the contacting surfaces. However, the relationship between ZDDP tribofilm growth rate and the evolution of micropitting has not been directly demonstrated. To address this, we report the development of a novel technique using MTM-SLIM to obtain micropitting and observe ZDDP tribofilm growth in parallel throughout a test. This is then applied to investigate the effect of ZDDP concentration and type on micropitting. It is found that oils with higher ZDDP concentrations produce more micropitting but less surface wear and that, at a given concentration, a mixed primary-secondary ZDDP results in more severe micropitting than a primary ZDDP. Too rapid formation of a thick antiwear tribofilm early in the test serves to prevent adequate running-in of sliding parts, which subsequently leads to higher asperity stresses and more asperity stress cycles and consequently more micropitting. Therefore, any adverse effects of ZDDP on micropitting and surface fatigue in general are mechanical in nature and can be accounted for through ZDDP's influence on running-in and resulting asperity stress history. The observed correlation between antiwear film formation rate and micropitting should help in the design of oil formulations that extend component lifetime by controlling both wear and micropitting damage.

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