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

Substituent Control of Tribofilm Growth under Mechanochemical Conditions

Lubricant additives that reduce wear by forming protective tribofilms on sliding surfaces are crucial to maintaining the efficient and reliable …

Lubricant additives that reduce wear by forming protective tribofilms on sliding surfaces are crucial to maintaining the efficient and reliable operation of many engineering systems. The most important of these additives, zinc dialkyldithiophosphate (ZDDP), has been in use for almost a century; however, several aspects of the physicochemical mechanisms through which it reduces wear remain unclear. While changes to the molecular structure of ZDDP are known to affect tribofilm formation and antiwear performance, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we show using macroscale tribometer experiments under well-defined temperature and stress conditions, how the ZDDP tribofilm formation rate on steel from nonpolar base oils can be controlled by tailoring the additive’s alkyl substituents. Our results suggest that the chain-length, branching and presence of cycloaliphatic groups can affect the packing density, steric hindrance, and stress transmission, leading to large differences in the temperature- and stress-dependencies of the tribofilm formation rate.

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Paper

In-Situ Observation of the Effect of the Tribofilm Growth on Scuffing in Rolling-Sliding Contact

General reductions in lubricant viscosities in many machine components mean that the role of lubricant additives in forming tribofilms has …

General reductions in lubricant viscosities in many machine components mean that the role of lubricant additives in forming tribofilms has become increasingly important to provide adequate surface protection against scuffing. However, the relationship between scuffing and the formation and removal of tribofilms has not been systematically demonstrated. In this study a step-sliding speed scuffing test based on contra-rotation using MTM-SLIM and ETM-SLIM has been employed to observe concurrently tribofilm thickness and the onset of scuffing. The initial sliding speed used was found to significantly affect scuffing performance since it determines the extent to which a tribofilm can form before critical sliding speed conditions are reached. Generally, additives that formed thicker tribofilms, especially ZDDPs and triphenyl phosphate, gave effective protection against scuffing, though their protective tribofilms were progressively removed at higher sliding speeds, eventually resulting in scuffing.

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