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Viscosity related topics

Fluids and Viscosity

Simply put, a fluid is a material that is either a liquid or gas, and fluids include
air, water and oil. Most lubrication is the result of a fluid film that is in between
two solid surfaces that move relative to each other. The fluid film in the
lubricated area can have a thickness ranging from a few nanometers (billionths
of a meter) to hundreds of microns (millionths of a meter) thick. As a point of
reference, a human hair will have a diameter between 50 and 150 microns.
The most important property of a lubricant is the viscosity. Loosely defined, the
viscosity is the fluids ability to resist motion. A high viscosity means that a fluid
is thicker and does not flow as easily. For example, molasses has a much higher
viscosity than water, which has a much higher viscosity than air. The viscosity
of oil is usually between that of water and molasses. A higher viscosity fluid will
typically make a thicker film between the moving surfaces and support greater
loads. Of course, viscosity is not a constant property. Like most fluid properties,
it depends on the temperature and pressure, especially temperature. The oil in
your cars engine has a high viscosity on a cold morning before the engine is
started and a low viscosity after the engine heats up. High viscosity does not
guarantee a good lubricant, though. How often have you seen molasses used as
a lubricant? Chemistry of the fluid and conditions at the interface also
determine the proper lubricant.

Definition of Viscosity:
The simplest definition of viscosity is resistance to flow. Sir Isaac Newton (the
guy with the three laws and an apple on the ground) defined it as the resistance
that arises from lack of slipperiness in a fluid. Cold maple syrup is thick and
not slippery, but cold water is thin and slippery.
Words such as thick, slippery, thin and sticky are not distinguishing when we
have to describe dozens of different oils. Instead, we use numbers to compare
different lubricating oils. Consider the experiment shown in the sketch. The
force F that is applied at the edge of the top plate, divided by the area of the
plate A, is defined as Shear Stress. The movement of the fluid between the
plates that results from the application of the force is the Shear Rate. Shear Rate
has to do with the speed with which the layers of fluid between the plates move.
The top layers, the ones closest to the moving plate, move the fastest and the
layer nearest to the stationary plate moves the slowest. Thus, there is a velocity

gradient from fastest to slowest. This gradient is the Shear Rate for that fluid at
a given shear force.
We use these two relationships to describe the resistance to flow:

Two types of viscosity measuring instruments are in common use. They are
described on the next two sections.

Changing Viscosity with Additives

VI improvers change oil blends so that they maintain a more constant viscosity
over a wide temperature range. The additives that act as VI improvers are
generally long polymer chains that are coiled like a spring. When an external
shear stress forces the blend of oil and polymer chains to flow, the coiled
polymer chains that are suspended in the oil become stretched and distorted to
an extent that they impede the oil flow. But impeding oil flow has the same
effect as increasing the oil viscosity and thus the blend has a different viscosity
curve from the unmodified oil.
A polymer that changes the viscosity index is called a VI Improver. They most
commonly are long polymer molecules with a molecular weight of about
100,000. When a suspension of these polymers in oil is heated, the polymer
molecules expand and make the oil behave in a more viscous manner. When the
same suspension is made to flow under the action of a shear stress, the
molecules interfere with flow as explained above. This also causes the blend to
behave in a more viscous manner.
Summarizing, the polymer and oil behaves:
In a more viscous manner
o As the temperature is increased
o As the shear rate is increased
In a less viscous manner
o As the temperature is decreased

o As the shear rate is decreased.

Note from the diagram below that this yields High VI oil, which is desirable for
most applications
Some additives, particularly those with smaller molecular size,
can change the viscosity index or change the viscosity curve in
a manner that can be negative to the system performance.

Lubricant Film

This graph shows how the friction torque in a journal bearing

changes with lubricant viscosity and other variables. Remember
that friction torque is wasted energy that heats the oil, shaft

and bearing. The friction torque is shown on the vertical axis

and we see that it is highest on the left side of the graph where
the arrow points to Boundary Lubrication. The friction torque
decreases in the area called Mixed-Film Lubrication and it is at
its lowest value across the bottom of the graph in the region
marked Hydrodynamic Lubrication. This diagram is called a
Stribeck Curve.
Across the bottom of the curve, we have a new parameter mN/P. In this parameter, m is oil viscosity, N is shaft speed in
rpm and P is the external load carried by the bearing. The
parameter is found by multiplying the viscosity by the shaft
speed and dividing by the external load.
For our bearing, we can change the friction torque, or wasted
energy, by changing one, two, or all three of these variables.

Lubricant Viscosity changes Friction Torque:

If oil with a higher viscosity m is used, the journal can to move through the
Lubrication regimes with smaller increases in shaft speed. In the Hydrodynamic
Lubrication regime, an increase in viscosity results in a proportional increase in
friction torque loss. If a journal must be operated at low shaft speeds, the
lubricant viscosity should be high if we want to achieve full Hydrodynamic
Lubrication. Does this seem logical to you?

Load Effect on Friction Torque:

As the load P increases, the Stribeck Diagram shows that the shaft speed or the
lubricant viscosity (and sometimes both) must increase if we want to maintain a
low friction torque.

Clearly, viscosity and rheology are very important to the proper operation of
mechanical equipment. An equipment design engineer designing a bearing or
gearbox, or a lubricant dispensing device, needs to understand the implications
of rheology on her design. If she knows the conditions under which the?
Converging wedge? Is operating, the rotating speed, the load, and the
possibility of any intermittent changes in pressure with time, and if she can
predict the range of operating temperatures, she can specify a viscosity and
viscosity index for effective lubrication. Conversely, if she knows the viscosity

profile of a lubricant, she can design a mechanical system to operate

reliably. Lubricant formulators keep all of these concepts in mind and under
control when developing new products.