Tribological performance of an organic friction modifier (glycerol monooleate – GMO), an anti-wear additive (zinc dialkyldithiophosphate – ZDDP) and its combination was studied using a ball-on-disc tribometer equipped with optical interferometry at 90 °C and 140 °C. Higher temperatures were needed for the formation of additive layers and chemically reactive anti-wear protective layers. Comparison of Stribeck curves obtained after different rubbing durations showed that GMO reduced friction at low speed sliding-rolling contact. Despite notable decrease in the base oil viscosity with increase in temperature — in turn, increasing the severity of asperity contact — GMO exhibited enhanced frictional performance. The presence of ZDDP alone in the formulation led to significant increase in friction at both low and high temperatures, with the thickness of tribofilm unaffected after prolonged rubbing. The addition of friction modifier to ZDDP-based formulation reduced the friction in the boundary lubrication regime where longer rubbing aided in effective friction reduction at higher temperature. For the binary additive system, the friction coefficient was found to lie between the values corresponding to the single additives. The observed tribological response is attributed to preferential adsorption of the friction modifier over ZDDP and/or ZDDP decomposition products. This notion was corroborated by the results obtained from static and dynamic time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) analysis of the disc surface post tribological measurement. The concentration gradient of different chemical species detected in the tribofilm correlated with the frictional performance of the additives. Analysis of surface roughness and wear scar width showed an improvement in wear performance at higher temperature suggesting the friction modifier and anti-wear additive adsorbed on the surface providing a mechanical barrier. A synergistic effect on the wear performance was observed for GMO + ZDDP-based formulations, which resulted in a smaller wear scar compared to the individual additives.
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