Emulsions, consisting of a small volume of oil dispersed in water in the form of small particles, are popular lubricants for metal rolling and some machine design applications. A number of mechanisms have been suggested for the lubricating behavior of emulsions, among which plate-out, starvation, and dynamic concentration are of particular interest here. At low speeds, the emulsion provides essentially the same lubricating ability as neat oil for a point contact, consistent with plate-out. At some critical speed, the emulsion behavior departs from the neat oil, associated with starvation of the inlet zone. At a second critical speed, dynamic concentration becomes the important mechanism. This article measures the film thickness and traction coefficients of oil-in-water emulsions in the different regimes of behavior and compares the results to existing theoretical understanding. The effect of droplet size is isolated as a causative element in fluid film formation.
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