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CHEMISTRY NOTES ON LUBRICANTS

By Soham Gautam Dixit (RA1611008010006)

Topics to be discussed:

1. Introduction
2. Functions
3. Properties

Lets begin:

1. IntroductioN:
When you talk about lubricants, what comes to your mind is liquid. But,
lubricants are not just a liquid! When you walk on the road you see friction
between your shoes and road, because of which you dont fall down. Same is
the case between two machine parts, friction does take place between
working of two machine parts but it is necessary to reduce this friction for
proper working of machine. So what lubricants do is they reduce the friction or
remove the friction between this machine parts. So we can define lubricants
as substances used to reduce the friction between two moving or
sliding surfaces.

2. Functions:

a.) Reduced friction

Lubricant forms an oil film on the surface of metals, converting solid friction
into liquid friction to reduce friction, which is the most common and essential function
of lubricants. Reduced friction prevents heating and abrasion on the friction surface.

b.) Cooling

Friction certainly causes heating on the area and more heat is produced if
metals rub against each other. Therefore the heat needs to be absorbed or released;
otherwise the system is damaged or deformed. To prevent it, lubricants are applied.
Especially cooling is critical to rolling oils, cutting oils, and lubricating oils used in an
internal combustion engine.

c.) Load balancing

Components like gear or bearing are limitedly contacted on a certain line or


surface, so load can be increased in a moment, making systems at risk for being
destroyed and attached to each other. Therefore the application of lubricant protects
systems against increased load by forming an oil film to disperse load in the film.

d.) Cleaning

Long-term use of systems may lead to corrosion or aging, producing foreign


substances. In case of using hydraulic oil and gear oil, sediments accumulate such as
sludge from deterioration. Especially an internal combustion engine generates too
much soot, so that it is likely to shorten the life of systems and make them fail to
work properly. Therefore lubricant itself cleans out foreign substances like soap.

e.) Sealing

Sealing is to close the macro-gap between systems. Sealing the space


between pistons and cylinders in the internal combustion engines or air compressors
blocks the leakage of combustion gas and the inflow of external foreign substances to
maintain the defined internal pressure and protect the system. Especially in the
hydraulic system, lubricants itself serve to prevent the leakage by creating a
hydraulic film.

f.) Rust prevention

Metals produce rust when contacting water and oxygen. However, rust
formation can be controlled and the system lifetime is extended if the surface of
metals is coated with lubricating film.

3. Properties:
a.) Viscosity

It is the property of a liquid by virtue of which it offers resistance to its own


flow. Viscosity is the most important property of any lubricating oil. It determines the
operating characteristics of the lubricant: i.) If the viscosity of the oil is too low, a
liquid oil film cannot be maintained and thus excessive wear will take place. ii.) If
the viscosity is too high, excessive friction will result.

EFFECT OF TEMPERATURE ON VISCOSITY: Viscosity of liquid decreases with increase


in temperature. Thus lubricating oil becomes thinner as temperature increases. Hence
Viscosity of a good lubricating oil should not change much with temperature.

The rate at which the viscosity of an oil changes with temperature is measured by an
arbitrary scale, known as the VISCOSITY-INDEX (V.I). If the viscosity of an oil falls
rapidly as the temperature is raised, it has a low viscosity index. On the other hand, if
viscosity of an oil is only slightly affected on raising the temperature, its viscosity index is
high.
DETERMINATION OF VISCOSITY INDEX: For this purpose, we use a series of two types of
standard oils. Paraffinic-base Pennysylvanian oils(V.I.=100) and napthanic-base Gulf
oils(V.I.=0). Against each of these is marked their viscosities at 100 F and 210 F. The
former are known as H-oils and later are known as L-oils.

STEP 1: The viscosities of the oil under-test at 100 F and also at 210 F are first found out,
Let this values be U and V respectively.

STEP 2: Now from the list of H-oils, the oil which has the same viscosity at 210 F as the oil
under test is selected, and its corresponding viscosity at 100 F is read off. Let it be H.

STEP 3: Now from the list of L-oils, the oil which has the same viscosity at 210 F as the oil
under test is selected, and its corresponding viscosity at 100 F is read off. Let it be L.

THEN ,

VISCOSITY INDEX(V.I.)=(L-U/L-H)*100

b.) Flash and fire-points:

flash-point is the lowest temperature at which the oil lubricant gives off enough
vapours that ignite for a moment, when a tiny flame is brought near it; while fire-point is
the lowest temperature at which the vapours of the oil burn continuously at least for five
seconds, when a tiny flame is brought near it; in most of the cases, the fire-points are 5-40
degrees higher than the flash-point. The flash and fire-points do not have any bearing with
the lubricating property of the oil, but these are important when oil is exposed to high-
temperature service. A good lubricant should have flash-point atleast above the
temperature at which it is to be used. This safeguards against risks of fire, during the
use of lubricant. The flash and fire-points are, usually, determined by using Pensky-
Martens apparatus.

c.) Oiliness

Oiliness of a lubricant is a measure of its capacity to stick on to the surfaces of


machine parts, under conditions of heavy pressure or load. When a lubricating oil of poor
oiliness is subjected to high pressure, it has a tendancy to be squeezed out of the lubricating
machine parts, thereby its lubrication action stops. On the other hand, lubricants, which
have good oiliness stay in-between the lubricated surfaces, when they are subjected to high
pressure.

Oiliness is very important property of lubricants, particularly for extreme-pressure


lubrication. Mineral oils have got very poor oiliness while vegetable oils have got
very good oiliness. No direct test is available for measuring oiliness.

d.) Cloud and pour-points

When an oil is cooled slowly, the temperature at which it becomes hazy in


appearance is called as Cloud point ; while the temperature at which it ceases to flow or
pour is called as pour point. Cloud and pour-points indicate the stability of lubricants in cold
conditions. Lubricant used in a machine working at low temperatures should possess low
pour-point; otherwise solidification of lubricant will cause jamming of the machine. It has
been found that presence of waxes in the lubricating oil raise the pour-point. The
determination of this property of lubricants is carried out by pour point apparatus.

e.) Emulsification
Emulsification is the property of oils to get mixed with water, forming a mixture called
as emulsion. Certain oils form emulsion with water easily. Emulsions have a tendancy to
collect dirt, foreign matter, etc. Therefore, a good lubricating oil should form an emulsion
with water which breaks off quickly.

f.) Saponification number

It is the number of milligrams of KOH required to saponify(to convert fat into soap) 1
g of oil. Mineral oils do not saponify at all, but vegetable and animal oils do. This test helps
us to ascertain whether the oil under reference is animal and vegetable oil or mineral or a
compounded oil.

g.) Carbon residue

Lubricating oils contain high percentage of carbon in combined form. On heating,


they decompose depositing certain amount of carbon. The deposition of such carbon in
machine is intolerable. A good carbon should deposit less amount of carbon in use.
The estimation of carbon residue is generally, carried out by Conradson method.

h.) Decomposition stability

Lubricating oils must be stable at operating temperatures. Oils are usually broken up
by three chemical reactions viz. Oxidation, Hydrolysis, Pyrolysis. The harmful effects of
contamination of the lubricant by this decomposition process can be minimized by the use of
an efficient system of oil filtration and periodic change of oil.

i.) Aniline point

Aniline point of an oil is defined as the minimum equilibrium solution temperature for
equal volumes of aniline and oil sample. Aniline point gives an indication of the possible
deterioration of oil in contact with rubber sealings, packings, etc. Lower aromatic content in
oil is preferred because aromatic hydrocarbons tend to dissolve the rubber. The temperature
at which the two phases (oil and aniline) separate out is recorded at the aniline point.

j.) Mechanical stability

To judge the stability of a lubricant under conditions of very high pressure, etc.,
different mechanical tests are carried out. One of such tests is Four-balls extreme-
pressure lubricant test, in which lubricant under test is poured in a machine containing
four-balls. The lower three balls are stationery while upper ball I rotated. Load is gradually
increased and balls are examined at specific intervals for scale formation on them. If the
lubricant is satisfactory under the given load then the ball bearings appear to be clean after
the test. However, when the load is progressively increased, and if liberated heat welds the
balls together, then the lubricant is said to have failed completely. Thus this test helps us to
determine the maximum load that can be carried safely by a lubricant.

Other properties of a lubricant include : Precipitation number, Ash content,


Neutralization Number, Specific Gravity, Corrosion stability, Volatility, etc.