Hydraulic motor efficiency does not depend upon viscosity alone. Under low-speed, high-torque conditions, hydraulic motors operate in the boundary regime and, therefore, surface interactions of lubricant additives can affect friction and efficiency. This article presents an investigation of boundary film formation, friction, and surface topography in benchtop tribometers and hydraulic motors. Fluids investigated included those with varied antiwear packages (zinc dialkyldithiophosphate [ZDDP], ashless) and friction modifiers (with and without) and base oil (Group I, Group III). The mechanical efficiencies of geroler, axial piston, bent-axis, and radial piston motors were measured under low-speed, high-torque conditions. The addition of a friction modifier to an ashless hydraulic fluid increased the efficiency of the motors at low speed. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) analysis of motor surfaces after testing revealed the presence of tribochemical films from the hydraulic fluid additives. In benchtop tribometer testing, the friction modifier reduced friction significantly but also increased wear. This could be related to surface competition of the friction modifier and antiwear chemistries, as evidenced by the reduced concentration of phosphorus on the surface. These findings are significant because they provide insights toward the development of fluids that can enhance motor efficiency but also demonstrates the need for a well-balanced additive package so that improved motor efficiency can be achieved without affecting other important properties of the fluid.
Keywords: Boundary Lubrication, Friction Modifying Additives, Hydraulic Motor Efficiency