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2007:62

LI CE N TI ATE T H E S I S

Tribology of Elastomers

Mohammadreza Mofidi

Luleå University of Technology


Department of Applied Physics and Mechanical Engineering
Division of Machine Elements

2007:62|: -1757|: -lic -- 07⁄62 -- 


Tribology of Elastomers

Mohammadreza Mofidi

Luleå University of Technology

Department of Applied Physics and Mechanical Engineering

Division of Machine Elements

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Cover figure: The figure shows the smoke plume after the break up of the Space Shuttle
Challenger. The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred in the United States, over the
Atlantic Ocean on January 28, 1986. The shuttle exploded due to the failure of an O-ring
seal in its solid rocket booster (SRB).
From:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/06/sci_nat_1986_challenger_disaster/html/
1.stm, accessed at: 2007-11-02

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Preface
The work presented in this thesis has been carried out at the Division of Machine
Elements, Department of Applied Physics and Mechanical Engineering at Luleå
University of Technology (LTU) in Luleå, Sweden.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to my supervisors, Professor Braham Prakash
and Dr. Elisabet Kassfeldt, for their wholehearted support and guidance throughout this
work. I have learnt a lot from the various courses I attended at this university and would
like to thank all my teachers, especially Prof. Braham Prakash and Prof. Roland Larsson.
I wish to thank the “Ministry of Science, Research and Technology of IRAN” for
awarding me the scholarship to pursue research at Luleå University of Technology. This
work would not have been possible without this support and I am really grateful to the
Government of Iran for this.
I am also extremely grateful to Dr. Richard Schaake, Mr. Joop Vree and Professor Piet
Lugt, (all from the SKF Engineering and Research Centre) and Dr. Marika Torbacke
(from Statoil Lubricants) for their intellectual as well as material inputs to this work.
All my colleagues at the Division of Machine Elements, especially Jens Hardell and
Donald McCarty have been very helpful whenever I had any difficulty and I sincerely
acknowledged their support.
I would like to thank my friends at Luleå University of Technology and their families,
Pourghahramani, Barabady, Ahmadi, Keramati, Toufighi, Akhavan, Ghodrati, Khatibi and
Payman Roonasi and I shall always remember their supports and kindness.
A special thanks to my wife, Sedigheh and my son Aref, for their support and patience.
My sincere gratitude goes to my mother-in-law for her affection and kindness who
suddenly passed away last year. I would like to extend my appreciation to all my brothers
and sisters for their profound kindness.
Finally, I am deeply indebted to my parents, Parviz and Soghra, and feel a tremendous
sense of appreciation for their genuine support, care, encouragement, patience and eternal
dedication.

Luleå, December 2007


Mohammadreza Mofidi

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Abstract
Elastomers are the most commonly used materials for various sealing applications owing
to their low modulus of elasticity, large elongation-to-break, and high Poisson’s ratio.
Most seals operate in the presence of lubricants; therefore, the sealing elastomer-oil
interaction plays an important role in determining the tribological performance of
elastomers. Furthermore, at times, such as starting up periods, the seals may also operate
under dry condition and the seal material can be affected by high friction coefficient and
wear.
In this work, the tribological behaviour of different elastomers has been studied. The
influence of aging of a sealing elastomer in different lubricants on its tribological
behaviour has been investigated. Further studies pertaining to the influence of lubrication
on the abrasive wear of a sealing elastomer have also been carried out.
The results show that aging of the nitrile rubber in ester base fluids leads to reduction of
friction coefficient. Dry abrasive wear of the aged rubber in ester base fluids and rapeseed
oil are higher than that in the mineral oils.
The abrasive wear of elastomers may increase or decrease in presence of lubricants
depending upon whether tearing or smearing is the dominant wear mechanism. Presence
of the lubricant reduces the frictional forces resulting in a decrease in local mechanical
rapture but it accelerates the decomposition of the molecular network to a low molecular
weight. The overall effect of the lubricant on the abrasive wear depends on the elastomer-
lubricant compatibility, abrasive coarseness, geometry of sliding contact area and contact
pressure.
In unidirectional dry sliding of an elastomer against a counterface, the friction coefficient
decreases during the running-in period. The longest running-in periods have been
observed when the elastomers slide against relatively smooth surfaces. The running-in
time of HNBR is significantly longer than those for other materials. The surface roughness
has the minimum and maximum effects on the steady state friction coefficient of ACM
and HNBR respectively. The results of the tests conducted at high contact pressure show
that roll formation is the dominant wear mechanism in tribological pairs involving FKM
and HNBR and results in high wear of these elastomers. The wear particles of the ACM
were powdery in nature whereas those of FKM and HNBR were of roll shape.

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Appended papers:

Paper A:
M. Mofidi, E. Kassfeldt, B. Prakash, Tribological behaviour of an elastomer aged in
different oils, Tribology International, accepted for publication

Paper B:
M. Mofidi, B. Prakash, Two body abrasive wear and frictional characteristics of NBR
elastomer under lubricated sliding conditions
Submitted for publication

Paper C:
M. Mofidi, B. Prakash, Influence of counterface topography on sliding friction of some
elastomers under dry sliding conditions
Submitted for publication

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Contents
Preface .................................................................................................................................iii
Abstract ................................................................................................................................. v
1. Introduction ...................................................................................................................... 1
1.1 Elastomeric seals .................................................................................................................... 1
1.2 Elastomers .............................................................................................................................. 2
1.3 Oil and heat resistance of elastomer..................................................................................... 2
1.4 Friction.................................................................................................................................... 3
1.5 Wear........................................................................................................................................ 5
1.6 Objectives and outline of the research ................................................................................. 7
1.7 Limitations.............................................................................................................................. 8
2 Lubricated sliding friction................................................................................................. 9
2.1. Experimental method ........................................................................................................... 9
2.2 Test materials ....................................................................................................................... 10
2.3 Results and discussion ......................................................................................................... 11
2.3.1 Lubricated sliding.......................................................................................................................... 11
2.3.2 Influence of aging the elastomer in different oils.......................................................................... 11
3 Two body abrasive wear in reciprocating sliding ........................................................... 13
3.1 Experimental method .......................................................................................................... 13
3.2 Test materials ....................................................................................................................... 13
3.3 Results and discussion ......................................................................................................... 13
3.3.1 Abrasive wear and the effect of lubrication .................................................................................. 14
3.3.2 Influence of aging the elastomer in different lubricating fluids .................................................... 14
4 Abrasive wear in unidirectional sliding.......................................................................... 17
4.1 Experimental method .......................................................................................................... 17
4.2 Test material......................................................................................................................... 18
4.3 Results and discussion ......................................................................................................... 18
5 Dry sliding friction .......................................................................................................... 23
5.1 Experimental method .......................................................................................................... 23
5.2 Test materials ....................................................................................................................... 24
5.3 Results and discussion ......................................................................................................... 24
6 Conclusions...................................................................................................................... 29
7 Future work ..................................................................................................................... 31
References:.......................................................................................................................... 33

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1. Introduction
Seal is a component which prevents the leakage of fluid or gas from machine and prevents
contamination entering the machine. Seals can be divided into static and dynamic seals.
Static seals perform the sealing function between surfaces which do not have any motion
relative to each other. Dynamic seals perform the sealing function between the surfaces in
relative motion. Dynamic seals can be subdivided into rotary and reciprocating seals [1].
Tribological aspects are significant in dynamic seals owing to their sliding against sealing
surfaces.

1.1 Elastomeric seals


Depending on the application, metal, plastomer, elastomer and composite material can be
used as a seal material, however elastomer is the most popular seal material in general
application. The advantages of elastomer as a seal material are as follows:
x Elastomers are reasonably inexpensive; even expensive special elastomer seals can
give a low cost for total seal system in comparison with the seals which are
designed and produced of other materials;
x They have low module of elasticity and high elongation-to-break; they can be
deflected largely to follow irregularities and vibration of the sealed surface without
giving high contact stresses;
x They have a high Poisson's ratio (close to 0.5, therefore the material behaves in a
manner similar to a liquid under pressure, transferring any applied pressure
hydrostatically), enabling an elastomeric seal to create its own sealing force
automatically in proportion to the pressure;
x They have low shear modulus G which in combination of its high poisson’s ratio
enables them to change shape easily without change of volume; thus the
elastomeric seal can conform to the shape of its housing.
Elastomeric seals also have certain disadvantages:
x They change from rubber to glass as the temperature falls bellow a critical
temperature, the glass transition temperature Tg (e.g. Challenger catastrophe);
x They can have friction characteristics which are not always predictable;
x Chemical and temperature resistance of elastomers is poor compared with many
other engineering materials; and
x Elastomer under pressure readily extrudes into even very smal clearances, owing
to the high Poisson's ratio and low elastic modulus.
Seals can fail through different mechanisms resulting in leakage contamination entering
the lubricant. The most important mechanisms of seal failure are abrasion, thermal
degradation, chemical degradation, compression set, plasma degradation, over
compression, extrusion, extraction etc. Friction of seal sliding against sealing surface can
affect the overall efficiency of the machine. Furthermore, high friction results in an

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increase in temperature and accelerates the failure of seal through different mechanisms
such as thermal degradation, chemical degradation, abrasion and so on. Most seals operate
in lubricated conditions; however they may occasionally operate in dry conditions such as
the running-in periods. Thus, understanding the wear mechanisms of elastomeric seals and
frictional behaviour of sealing elastomers, particularly in presence of lubricants, is
important in determining their performance and service life. Tribological behaviour of
elastomers has been investigated extensively, however most of the previous works were
pertaining to the dry condition and the tribological behaviour of elastomer in lubricated
condition has investigated scantily.

1.2 Elastomers
Elastomers are a class of polymeric materials that possess the quality of elasticity, i.e., the
ability to regain shape after deformation. Elastomer comes from two terms, “elasto” which
indicates the ability of material to return to its original shape and “mer” which comes from
polymer. Polymer is a substance composed of molecules with large molecular mass
composed of repeating structural units, or monomers, connected by covalent chemical
bonds. Elastomer refers to all the polymeric materials with high elasticity including
crosslinked rubber. However, a distinction is made between raw rubber and crosslinked
rubber. The former is completely deformable in a plastic-like manner, particularly at high
temperatures, because it does not have a rigid network structure. In contrast, the
crosslinked rubber does not have a plastic transition zone due to their three dimensional
networks, which restrain the movement macro-molecular chain molecules [2].

1.3 Oil and heat resistance of elastomer


Oil and heat resistance of elastomers has an important role in sealing applications. When
an elastomer and a base fluid are brought in contact with each other, the elastomer
material may absorb the base fluid or the base fluid may extract soluble constituents of the
elastomer. The base fluid may also react with the elastomer [3]. Presence of the polar side-
groups in the backbone chain of elastomer increases the oil resistance of the polymer [4].
Crosslinking also limits the degree of polymer swelling by providing tie points
(constrains) that limit the amount of solvent that can be absorbed into the polymer [4].
Elastomers may show progressive change in their physical properties due to exposure to
heat. Three types of changes have been observed: additional crosslinking resulting in
higher crosslink density and an increase in hardness, chain scission leading to reduction in
chain length and average molecular weight and consequently softening of the elastomer,
chemical alternation of the polymer chain by formation of polar or other groups [5].
Figure 1 shows the oil and heat resistance of different elastomers [4].

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Figure 1: Oil resistance (%swell in #3 oil) [4]

1.4 Friction
The coefficient of friction of a rubber surface against a hard surface can be expressed in
terms of the contribution of adhesion, deformation (hysteresis), viscous and cohesion
(tearing) [6, 7]. Adhesion (Figure 2) is generally recognized to consist in the making and
breaking of junctions at a molecular level [8]. Hysteretic friction (Figure 2) is a
consequence of energy loss associated with internal damping within the viscoelastic body
[9]. The cohesive component of friction is the contribution of wear to the bulk losses and
the viscous component is the viscous drag under wet condition [7]. Most texts have
considered only two terms for friction components since the deformation component can
represent both the hysteresis and tearing component whereas the viscous component of
friction can be a subset of adhesion component [6]. Recent studies show that the
independency of the adhesion and deformation components of friction is only a simplified
assumption. It has been assumed that the adhesive force per unit area should be constant
during any deformation while the surface free energy is a function of both internal energy
and entropy, and so it should change if the internal energy and/or entropy change due to
any bulk deformation [10].

FADH. FHYST.

Figure 2: Adhesion and hysteresis [6]

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Contribution of adhesion and hysteretic friction depends on the temperature, sliding
velocity, geometry and cleanliness of the mating surfaces [11, 12]. The adhesion
component is more significant on very clean and smooth rubber surfaces [12, 13, and 14].
It can also be significant at low loads, even in lubricated conditions [15], because of the
significance of the attractive Van der Waals’ forces in temporary bonds between the
surfaces in comparison to the normal load [16].
The frictional force of rubber sliding at various velocities and temperatures on a given
surface can be expressed by a single master curve and the glass temperature of
material [17].This transform agrees closely with the William-Landel-Ferry (W.L.F.)
transform [18] and thus shows that both friction mechanisms are viscoelastic in nature.
When a soft rubber slides against a hard track, or a hard slider slides against a soft rubber
track, the relative motion between the two frictional members is often due to ‘waves of
detachment’ crossing the contact area at high speed from front to rear. These waves, which
move much faster than the two bodies in sliding [19], are known as ‘Schallamach waves’
named after the researcher. The Schallamch waves appear at a critical sliding speed whose
value depends on the adhesive properties of the interface, the geometrical characteristics
of the contact, elastic properties of the rubber-like material, load and the temperature [20].
Figure 3 shows the Shallamach waves generated on the surface of a rubber by a hard
spherical slider.

Sliding direction of hard sphere

Figure 3: Shallamach waves on the surface of a rubber generated by a hard sphere at a sliding speed
of 0.43 mm/s (8 frames at 1/32 s intervals) [19]

The lubrication decreases the real contact area between the rubber and hard counterface
resulting in a decrease in friction coefficient. Presence of fluid between rubber and hard
substrate reduces not only the adhesion but also the hysteretic component of friction. On a
lubricated substrate the valleys turn into fluid pools which are sealed off and effectively
smooth out the substrate surface (Figure 4). This smoothing reduces the viscoelastic
deformation caused by the surface asperities, and thus reduces rubber friction [21, 22].

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Rubber
Fluid

Hard counterface

Figure 4: Smoothing the substrate in presence of lubricant [21]

1.5 Wear
Three different mechanisms of wear can be identified when an elastomer slides against a
hard substrate. During sliding against a hard countersurface with a sharp texture, abrasive
wear takes place as a result of tearing of the sliding surface of the elastomer. Fatigue wear
is another mechanism of wear which occurs on the surface of an elastomer sliding against
blunt projections on the hard substrates. When a highly elastic elastomer slides against a
smooth surface, roll formation occurs. In this type of wear the high frictional force shears
a projection on the rubber surface, tears and then rolls the tongue along the direction of
sliding [6]. A critical value of shear stress can be defined for each rubber such that if the
shear stress is higher than the critical shear stress, roll formation occurs and for shear
stresses lower than the critical value, wear is mainly due to fatigue. Thus the friction
coefficient is one of the most important properties of rubber governing the type of
wear [23]. Figure 5 shows the schematic diagram of the friction and wear mechanisms in
elastomers.

Figure 5: Schematic diagram of the friction and wear mechanisms in rubber-like materials [6].

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In practice, a combination of three forms of wear occurs and it is difficult to separate the
contribution of each mechanism to the overall wear [6].
When rubber is abraded without a change of direction, sets of parallel ridges are often
found on the surface of the samples at right angles to the direction of motion which have
been called “abrasion patterns” [24]. The surfaces of elastomers abraded by fatigue wear
exhibit pitting marks and the surfaces of harder elastomers, sliding against sharp
asperities, exhibit scratches parallel to the direction of sliding [25]. The scratches, parallel
to the sliding direction, occur on the surface of elastomers sliding in point contacts with
sharp asperities. The elastomer surface is pulled in the direction of sliding and fails in
tension behind the contact perpendicular to the tensile stress field [26]; see Figure 6(a).
The formation of ridges starts by initiation the cracks at the rear of the contact region, due
to the high shearing stress, and continues by growing the cracks under repetitive
loading [27]; see Figure 6(b).

(b)
(a)
Figure 6: Mechanism of scratch and ridge formation on the sliding surface of elastomer; (a) scratch
formation [26], (b) ridge formation [27].

Grosch and Schallamach found that on sharp tracks, such as abrasive paper, linear wear
rate as a result of tensile failure was proportional to the ratio between frictional energy
dissipation and energy density at break [28]. Southern and Thomas studied abrasion of
rubber surfaces by a razor blade in line contact and formulated a theory which describes
the correlation between the wear rate and frictional force as well as the crack growth
characteristics of the rubber. They also mentioned that the pattern spacing depends on the
abrading force and test temperature [27]. Zhang and Yang have introduced a theoretical
wear equation of rubber abrasion in a line contact from the viewpoint of energy on the
basis of experimental results [29, 30].
Another classification introduces the wear of elastomers as a result of two processes; local
mechanical rupture (tearing) and decomposition of the molecular network to a low
molecular weight (smearing) [31]. The oily decomposition product which forms during
smearing protects the underlying rubber from tearing and thus decreases the rate of
wear [32]. Experiments show that the rate of wear during smearing decreases by
introducing antioxidants [32, 33].
Polymers are soluble in many organic fluids and there can be a synergistic effect between
an aggressive solvent and the polymer resulting in significant wear. If the solvent can
penetrate the surface of the polymer it will have a detrimental effect on its wear behaviour.

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The rapid wear which results is believed to occur by aggravated cracking of the solvent
weakened polymer during contact with the counterface [34]. This is schematically
illustrated in Figure 7.

Penetration and
Aggravated cracking and
softening of polymer
wear in softened layer Sliding surface by solvent

Counterface Solvent

Polymer

Figure 7: Synergism between wear of polymer and damage by a solvent [34].

Muhr et al. have studied the influence of lubrication on the abrasion of rubber by a blade
in line contact. They observed that when a lubricant is applied, a much finer pattern
develops and the rate of abrasion is much lower but the horizontal force on the blade does
not decrease as dramatically [35, 36]. Chandrasekaran and Batchelor have studied the
friction and wear of butyl rubber sliding on abrasive paper as a function of temperature
and load. They conducted dry and lubricated unidirectional sliding tests and reported that
the presence of lubricant reduced the coefficient of friction but accelerated wear due to
chemical degradation of rubber [37].

1.6 Objectives and outline of the research


The purpose of this reasech is to study and develop knowledge pertaining to the
tribological behaviour of sealing elastomers especially in lubricated condition. The
specific objectives of this research are to study:
x Lubricated sliding friction: The influence of different lubricants and the
influence of aging of sealing elastomers in lubricants on its lubricated frictional
behaviour.
x Lubricated abrasive wear: Understanding the mechanisms of abrasive wear, the
effects of lubrication and the influence of aging of sealing elastomers in lubricants
on its abrasive wear.
x Dry sliding of different sealing elastomers: The tribological behaviour of
elastomers sliding against sealing surfaces in dry condition during run-in periods.
The outline of this research has been shown in Figure 8.

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Figure 8: Outline of this thesis

1.7 Limitations
Although the elastomeric compounds are normally referred to by the name of the base
polymer, this does not fully define the material. The details of compounding and
processing affect the material properties very significantly, but these details are generally
not revealed by the manufacturers.

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2 Lubricated sliding friction
The friction coefficient of an elastomers and the influence of aging in different oils on its
frictional behaviour has been studied.

2.1. Experimental method


An Optimol SRV machine (Figure 9) has been used to measure the friction coefficient of
elastomeric discs against a steel cylinder in lubricated reciprocating sliding conditions.
The effect of lubricants and also the influence of aging the elastomer in lubricating fluids
have been investigated by using this machine. The machine reciprocates an upper
cylindrical specimen loaded against the lower specimen. The sliding of cylinder is along
its axis. The friction force is measured by piezoelectric force sensors. Temperature,
normal force, frequency of motion and stroke length can be controlled during the tests.
The diameter of the cylinder is 15 mm and its length is 22 mm. The edges of the slider are
chamfered/rounded off with a view to minimise the edge effect.

1. Drive axle
2. Upper specimen holder
3. Load axle
4. Specimen (upper)
5. Specimen (lower)
6. Temperature sensor
7. Heating
8. Lower specimen holder
9. Piezo measuring element
10. Receiving block

Reciprocating
Upper specimen holder
(Steel cylinder)

Elastomeric
sample 3.3
mm
0.4 mm
The geometry
of the edges
of slider

Figure 9: Optimol SRV reciprocating friction tester

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2.2 Test materials
The elastomer which has been studied is acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR). The
content of acrylonitrile in the tested elastomer is 28%, which is common for oil
applications. This elastomeric material is vulcanized by sulphur. The polymeric content is
44% and the remaining part consists of different types of additives. The rubber samples
used in these studies were in the form of sheets of 4mm thickness. The initial hardness of
the elastomer was 75±5 IRHD (international rubber hardness degrees). The surface was
examined in a Wyko 3D optical surface profilometer. The elastomer surface was
characterised by parallel grooves (Figure 10) which are caused during moulding of
elastomeric sheets in steel mould. The test specimens were discs (ø25 mm and 4 mm
thickness), cut out from the elastomeric sheets.
The aging of the elastomer samples was done by immersing the fresh samples in the oils at
120 °C for one week (168 hours).

Figure 10: Surface topography of the fresh elastomer sample (Ra=0.344 ȝm, Rq=0.438 ȝm)

The lubricating fluids used for aging the elastomer were paraffinic, naphthenic, 2 PAOs, 2
VHVIs, monoester, diester, polyolester, complex ester and rapeseed oils. The lubricants
and their properties have been shown in Table 1.

Table 1: The properties of lubricants


Base fluid Density (kg/m3) Viscosity@40ºC (cSt) NPI
Naphthenic base oil 896 30.0 —
PAO2 830 28.5 —
PAO1 790 5.5 —
VHVI2 830 26.0 —
VHVI1 822 12.0 —
Paraffinic base oil 870 34.1 —
Diester 910 (20°C) 26.1 82
Complex ester 980 46.0 80
Polyol ester 900 35.5 170
Monoester 864 (20 °C) 8.5 102
Rapeseed oil 910 (30 °C) 34.0 190

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2.3 Results and discussion
The experiments have been performed on non-aged elastomer at different loads and where
as the tests on aged samples were done at one specified load only.

2.3.1 Lubricated sliding


The effects of load, temperature, and orientation of sliding with respect to the grooves on
the elastomer sample have been investigated. Figure 11 shows the average value of
friction coefficient as a function of load at 25ºC, 40ºC and 80ºC. The results show that as
the temperature increases, the friction coefficient decreases. As the temperature increases,
the elastomer becomes more elastic (less viscous) and the hysteresis component of friction
(which is dominant component in lubricated sliding) decreases. As shown in the figure, at
high load where the hydrodynamic effect in film formation is negligible, the surface
roughness of elastomer and the orientation of grooves have insignificant effect on the
friction coefficient but at low loads, the friction coefficient is affected by the orientation of
grooves. When the cylinder reciprocates parallel to the direction of lay on the elastomer
surface, the friction coefficient is higher than that in perpendicular sliding. In
perpendicular sliding, the oil can be trapped within the grooves which may result in some
hydrodynamic effects and subsequently lower the friction coefficient. It confirms the Patir
and Cheng’s [38] results for elastomers.
Perpendicular sliding
Parallel sliding
0,8
Coefficient of friction

T = 25 °C T = 40 °C T = 80 °C
0,6

0,4

0,2

0
20 50 100 150 300 20 50 100 150 300 20 50 100 150 300
Normal load (N) Normal load (N) Normal load (N)

Figure 11: Friction coefficient as a function of load, Frequency: 50 Hz, Stroke: 1 mm,
Temperature: 25ºC, 40ºC, 80ºC

2.3.2 Influence of aging the elastomer in different oils


Figures 12 and 13 show the average values of friction coefficients on non-aged and aged
elastomer samples in different base fluids respectively. The results show that there is no
correlation between the friction coefficient and viscosity. It can be concluded that the
lubrication is in boundary or mixed regime. Comparison of friction results in Figures 12
and 13 shows that aging the rubber in synthetic esters reduces friction coefficient.
Investigation of the surfaces of the tested specimens showed that the worn surface areas of
the aged specimens are considerably less than those of non aged specimens.

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0.8
Perpendicular sliding Parallel sliding
0.7

Coeficient of friction
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0

1
2

1
c

r
r
l

er
er
oi

te
VI

VI

te
O

O
ni

ni

st
st

es
PA

PA

es
he

VH

VH

ffi

ie
oe
ee
ra
ht

ol
ex
D
on
es
Pa
ap

ly
pl
ap

Po
N

om
R

C
Figure 12: Coefficients of friction of non-aged samples in different base oils (Temperature: 40 ºC,
Load: 100 N, Frequency: 50 Hz, Stroke: 1 mm, Test duration: 15 min)

0.8
Perpendicular sliding Parallel sliding
0.7

0.6
Coeficient of friction

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0
2

r
2

er
ic

r
c

r
l

te

te
O

VI

VI

oi

te
ni
en

st

es
PA

PA

es
VH

VH

es
ffi

ed

oe
th

Di
ra

ol
ex
se
ph

on
Pa

ly
pe

pl
M
Na

Po
m
Ra

Co

Figure 13: Coefficients of friction of aged samples in different base oils (Temperature: 40 ºC, Load:
100 N, Frequency: 50 Hz, Stroke: 1 mm, Test duration: 15 min.)

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3 Two body abrasive wear in reciprocating sliding
The two body abrasive wear of an elastomer in dry and lubricated condition and the
influence of aging the elastomer in different lubricating fluids on its abrasive wear have
been investigated.

3.1 Experimental method


An abrasive wear tester (Figure 14) has been used to study the dry and lubricated abrasive
wear. This tester consists of a platform on which the sample is mounted and reciprocated
against an abrasive paper wrapped around the circumferential surface of a wheel (ø50 mm
× 12 mm thick). The wheel is turned by a small angle at the end of each stroke so as to
enable the rubbing of elastomer against fresh abrasive surface. The frequency of
reciprocation of the test specimen was 100 cpm and the stroke length was 30 mm. All
abrasive wear tests have been done at room temperature (22 ± 2 ºC). In lubricated tests,
the oil was injected into the counterface by using a syringe. The rubber test specimens
were washed in industrial petroleum for 3 minutes by an ultrasonic cleaner, dried in an
oven for 20 minutes at 45 ºC and then weighed. The same procedure was repeated after
running the test for each specimen to quantify abrasive wear.

Reciprocating holder

Elastomer
Backing support
surface
plate

Abrasive tape
on wheel

Figure 14: Abrasive wear tester

3.2 Test materials


The elastomer and lubricants used in this study were the same as used in section 2. In this
study, rectangular elastomeric sheet specimens of 40 mm × 20 mm and 4 mm thickness
were used.

3.3 Results and discussion


The two body abrasive wear tests have been performed on non-aged elastomer at different
loads and by using different abrasive grit size. On aged samples, the tests were conducted
by using only one grit size abrasive paper and at one load.

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3.3.1 Abrasive wear and the effect of lubrication
The results show that when the elastomer slides against fine abrasives, the lubrication
increases the abrasive wear but in sliding against coarse abrasives, lubrication decreases
abrasive wear. Figure 15 shows that the decrease in abrasive wear is more pronounced at
the beginning of sliding. As shown in Figure 16 the effect of lubricant on abrasive wear is
more significant at lower loads.
Dry
Lubricated
60
Grit size: #120 Grit size: #320 Grit size: #500
Abrasive wear (mg)

50

40

30

20

10

0
40 80 120 160 40 80 120 160 40 80 120 160
Cycles Cycles Cycles

Figure 15: Abrasive wear of elastomer as a function of total cycles (Load: 1000 gr)

60
Dry Lubricated
Abrasive wear (mg)

50

40

30

20

10

0
400 1000 1600
Load (gr)

Figure 16: Abrasive wear of the elastomer as a function of load under dry and lubricated sliding
condition (Abrasive grit size: #320, Total cycles: 160)

3.3.2 Influence of aging the elastomer in different lubricating fluids


The two body abrasive wear results of aged and non-aged rubbers in dry and lubricated
conditions have been shown in Figure 17. It shows that the abrasive wear of both aged and
non-aged nitrile rubber in lubricated condition is higher than that in dry condition. Aging
the rubber in any base fluid, especially in ester base fluid and rapeseed oil leads to more
abrasive wear. However, the influence of presence of oil is more significant than that of
aging especially for mineral oils. Use of the monoester base fluid resulted in the highest
abrasive wear of non-aged and aged rubber samples.

14
Figure 17: Abrasive wear of aged and non-aged elastomer by using different base fluids (Abrasive grit
size: # 500, Load: 500 gr, Speed: 100 c.p.m, Total cycles: 160)

The changes in the mechanical properties of the same compound of nitrile rubber in the
same base fluids were investigated previously by Torbacke and Johansson [3]. Our results
have not shown any clear correlation of friction coefficient and abrasive wear changes
with the changes in mechanical properties due to aging in lubricating fluids. It seems that
the chemical characteristics of the base oils rather than the mechanical properties may
have greater influence on the friction coefficients.

15
16
4 Abrasive wear in unidirectional sliding
Two body abrasive wear behaviour of the NBR elstomer has been studied under dry as
well as lubricated unidirectional sliding conditions.

4.1 Experimental method


The rubber specimen, attached on a metal backing plate, was pressed against an abrasive
tape glued on a rotating steel ring and the normal and frictional forces were recorded by
piezoelectric sensors. The test configuration is shown in Figure 18. The rubber specimens’
dimensions were 16mm×4mm×2mm (the width of contact area was 4 mm). The steel rings
were of ø 35 and 8 mm thick. The rubber specimens were washed in industrial petroleum
for 3 minutes using an ultrasonic cleaner and dried in an oven for 10 minutes at 40 ºC and
then weighed. The same procedure was repeated after running the test for each specimen
to quantify the abrasive wear. All the tests were performed at room temperature
(22 ± 2 ºC). In lubricated tests, the oil was injected into rubbing interface by a syringe.
The worn rubber surfaces were examined using an optical microscope.

Backing support plate Load

Elastomer block
(16 mm×4 mm×2 mm)

Abrasive tape
glued on steel ring
ĭ35 mm

Figure 18: The test configuration for abrasive wear tests

Two sets of abrasive tapes with different grit sizes (#120 and #500) have been used in
these experiments and the effect of lubricant on the abrasion of the rubber has been
studied. The speed of the ring was 1 r.p.m. and the tests were run for 1, 2 and 3 minutes.
For longer tests, the abrasive tape was changed after 1 revolution of the ring, so that, the
rubber was sliding against a fresh abrasive tape during the entire test duration. The tests
have been run at two different loads. All the experiments were performed twice to check
for repeatability of results.

17
4.2 Test material
The elastomeric material studied is acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR). The rubber
samples were cut out from the elastomeric sheets of 2 mm thickness. The nominal
hardness, tensile strength, elongation at break and density of NBR elastomer are given in
Table 2.

Table 2: The properties of NBR

Hardness, Tensile strength, Elongation Density,


Shore A MPa at break, % g/cm3
76.1 25.4 466 1.31

The lubricant used in these experiments was a mineral oil (paraffinic oil) with a density of
870 kg/m3 and a viscosity of 34.1 cSt at 40 °C.

4.3 Results and discussion


To understand the effect of a lubricant on the wear mechanism, the lost mass and friction
coefficient were measured and the worn surfaces were examined by using an optical
microscope.
The experiments have been carried out at two levels of contact pressure. It can be
observed that a combination of both the ridges (perpendicular to the direction of sliding)
and scratches (along the direction of sliding) has been formed on the contact surfaces. The
ridges have been concentrated close to the highest contact pressure zone. Figure 19 shows
the typical worn surfaces and the position of ridges.

Figure 19: The worn surfaces of rubber samples sliding against (a) coarse abrasives (left) and (b) fine
abrasives (right) in dry condition, Load = 1500 g, sliding distance = 2 rev.

Figure 20 shows the worn surfaces of rubber samples sliding against coarse abrasives in
dry condition, after 1 and 2 revolutions. As the sliding distance increases, the worn surface
is characterized by an increase in ridges.

18
Figure 20: The worn surfaces of rubber samples sliding against coarse abrasives in dry condition,
(a) after 1 revolution, (b) after 2 revolutions, (Load = 150 g)

The formation of the ridges on the surfaces sliding against fine abrasives is more
pronounced than that on the surfaces sliding against coarse abrasives (Figure 21). The
ridges formed on the contact surfaces in the dry condition more rapidly than those in the
lubricated condition. The presence of lubricant results in a decrease in the real contact area
between the asperities of abrasives and the rubber surface. Therefore, the shearing stress is
concentrated in the areas of contact of elastomer and abrasive tips and consequently the
surface of the rubber is pulled in the direction of sliding locally. In dry condition, the shear
stress is distributed more uniformly on the apparent contact area resulting in more uniform
tensile stress at the rear of the apparent contact area and consequently the formation of
continuous ridges; see Figure 6.

Figure 21: The worn surfaces of rubber samples after 2 revolutions, Load = 1500 g

19
Figure 22 shows the worn mass of the rubber as a function of numbers of revolutions at
low load. The results show a mass gain of the rubber sample sliding against a coarse
abrasive paper after one revolution of sliding distance. This may be due to the absorption
of the oil into the rubber specimen. For short sliding distance with coarse abrasives, cuts
are produced on the surface of rubber and wear of the rubber may be very small (in
comparison to the absorbed oil). The oil is absorbed in the tears on the surface of the
rubber and is not completely removed during washing process. As shown in the Figures 22
and 23, the presence of the lubricant decreases the lost mass in most test conditions but it
does not mean that the wear of rubber in lubricated condition is less than that in dry
condition. These results appear somewhat conflicting vis a vis the results earlier presented
in section 3. It may however be noted that the elastomer used in these experiments as well
as the test configuration were different from those used in section 3. In the experiments in
section 3, a broader area of the surface of elastomer was sliding against the abrasives and
the contribution of the surface of elastomer in abrasive wear is more than that in these
experiments. Figure 15 of section 3 also shows that the influence of lubricant on increase
in abrasive wear is more significant only for a low sliding distance where a thin layer of
the surface of elastomer contributes to abrasive wear.

Figure 22: Lost mass of the elastomer as a function of number of revolutions (Normal load = 150 g)

Figure 23: Lost mass of the elastomer as a function of number of revolutions (Normal load = 1500 g)

As shown in Figures 24 and 25, the friction coefficient in the dry condition is higher than
those in the lubricated condition. The reduction in friction coefficient is due to the

20
reduction of friction components including the adhesive and hysteretic. The tearing
component may also decreases due to reduction in strength of the rubber in presence of
oil. The difference between dry and lubricated friction coefficients at high load is more
significant than that at low load, especially with fine abrasives. The apparent contact area
at high load is larger than that at low load and the sealing of the oil in the voids between
asperities is more effective in decreasing friction coefficient.

Figure 24: Friction coefficient as a function of number of revolutions (Normal load = 150 g)

Figure 25: Friction coefficient as a function of number of revolutions (Normal load = 1500 g)

21
22
5 Dry sliding friction
Friction and wear behaviour of acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR), hydrogenated
acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (HNBR), acrylate rubber (ACM) and fluoroelastomer
(FKM) against steel surfaces under unidirectional dry sliding conditions have been
studied.

5.1 Experimental method


The friction and wear behaviour of four sealing elastomers in dry sliding conditions have
been studied using the Micro-Tribometer UMT-2 (Figure 26). In these studies, a rubber
specimen, attached on a metal backing plate, was pressed against a rotating ring and the
normal and frictional forces were recorded by piezoelectric sensors. Three sets of bearing
steel rings with different surface roughness values were used with a view to study the
effect of surface roughness on friction and wear. The surface topographies of the used
rings have been shown in Figure 27. Each test was run for duration of 12 hours (43200
sec). The rubber specimens’ dimensions were 16 mm×4 mm×2 mm (the width of contact
area was 4 mm). The counterface bearing steel rings were of ø35mm and 8 mm thick. The
rubber specimens were washed in industrial petroleum for 3 minutes using an ultrasonic
cleaner and dried in an oven for 10 minutes at 40 ºC and then weighed. The same
procedure was repeated after running the test for each specimen in order to quantify wear.
Each ring was washed in industrial petroleum for 3 minutes using anultrasonic cleaner and
dried before the test and used only in one test. All the tests have been performed at room
temperature (22 ± 2 ºC).

Backing support plate Load

Elastomer block
(16 mm×4 mm×2 mm)

Steel ring
ĭ35 mm

Figure 26: Micro-Tribometer UMT-2

23
Fine surface (0.15<Ra<0.3 μm) Fine surface (0.35<Ra<0.55 μm) Fine surface (0.5<Ra<0.7 μm)
Figure 27: Surface topographies of steel rings

5.2 Test materials


The elastomers studied during this work are commonly used seal materials, acrylonitrile
butadiene rubber (NBR), hydrogenated acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (HNBR), acrylate
rubber (ACM) and fluoroelastomer (FKM). All the elastomers have a module of elasticity
of about 10 MPa at very low speed and room temperature. The nominal hardness, tensile
strength, elongation at break and material densities of these elastomers are given in
Table 3.

Table 3: Tested elastomers and their properties

Hardness Tensile Elongation at Density


Elastomeric materials
(Shore A) strength (MPa) break (%) (g/cm3)
Nitrile rubber , (NBR) 76.1 25.4 466 1.31
Hydrogenated nitrile rubber, (HNBR) 71.3 17.5 303 1.24
Acrylate rubber, (ACM) 73.4 7.8 171 1.49
Fluoro rubber, (FKM) 72.8 - - 2.03

5.3 Results and discussion


The tests have been run by using three sets of rings with different ranges of surface
roughness on four elastomeric materials. The normal load was 150 gr. Using the Hertz
contact theory, the contact pressure at low load is estimated to be about 240 KPa. At low
contact pressure, the lost mass of the tested elastomers was very small (less than 0.5 mg).
Figure 28 shows the friction coefficients of the elastomers versus time. As shown in the
figure, except for FKM on fine surface, the friction coefficients drop during running-in
periods to steady state values and the longest running-in periods have been observed
during sliding against fine surfaces. The running-in time for sliding friction of HNBR is
significantly longer than those with other materials. The decrease in friction coefficient
during running-in periods may be due to the material transfer from the rubber onto the
surface of the ring. Smearing as a result of the decomposition of the molecular network
may be another reason for the decrease in friction coefficient.

24
Apart from FKM, the steady state values of friction coefficients of tested materials
increase as the surface roughness decreases. The surface roughness has the minimum and
maximum effects on the steady state friction coefficient of ACM and HNBR respectively.
It seems that a low friction layer, including fine particles, has been formed on the sliding
surface of ACM and the steady state friction coefficient is more affected by the properties
and size of the particles in the layer than the surface roughness of the ring.
The steady state friction coefficient of FKM against the rough surface is higher than that
on the surface with medium surface roughness. It may be due to the higher hysteretic
component of friction which increases with roughness. However, more investigation on
the properties of the material and the surface roughness of the ring at nanoscale are
required in order to clearly explain this effect.

Figure 28: Friction coefficient vs. time, (Normal load: 150 gr, Speed: 10 r.p.m. )

The sliding friction tests have been run against the bearing steel rings with medium
surface roughness (0.35-0.55 ȝm) at higher normal load (1000 gr). Using the Hertz contact
theory, a contact pressure of 750 KPa is estimated at this normal load. Figure 29 shows the
worn surfaces of different elastomers from tests at high normal load. As shown in the
figure, roll formation has occurred on the surface of FKM and HNBR which was not
observed in the tests at low contact pressure. Furthermore, a white powdery layer has been
formed on the surface of ACM. The surface of NBR has been torn locally but the roll
formation observed in other tests has not occurred.

25
Figure 29: Worn surfaces of the tested rubbers (Normal load: 1000 gr, speed: 10 r.p.m, duration:
12 hours, surface roughness of rings: Ra = 0.35-0.55 ȝm)

Figure 30 shows the worn particles of FKM and HNBR. As shown in the Figures 29 and
30, severe wear occurred on the surface of FKM which resulted from the roll formation.
Although, the roll formation occurred on the surface of HNBR, the amount and size of
wear particles are much smaller than those on FKM. Consequently the worn mass of
HNBR is much lower than that of FKM. Among the tested materials, ACM and FKM
have the minimum and maximum elongation at break respectively and the size of worn
particles shows a correlation with this property.

Figure 30: Worn particles of FKM and HNBR (Normal load: 1000 gr, speed: 10 r.p.m, duration:
12 hours, surface roughness of rings: Ra = 0.35-0.55 ȝm)

Figure 31 shows the friction coefficient of the tested rubbers against the bearing steel rings
of medium roughness. The highest friction coefficient has been observed in tribological
pairs involving FKM followed by HNBR which may, in part, be due to the energy
dissipated in the tearing and roll formation. The friction coefficient in case of ACM

26
increases gradually during the test which may be due to changes in the properties and/or
the dimensions of the particles in the powdery layer between the surfaces.

3.0
ACM
2.5
Friction coefficient

FKM
2.0 HNBR

1.5 NBR

1.0

0.5

0.0
0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 35000 40000 45000
time (sec)

Figure 31: Friction coefficient vs. time, (Normal load: 1000 gr, Speed: 10 r.p.m, Surface roughness of
rings: Ra = 0.35 - 0.55 ȝm)

27
28
6 Conclusions
In this work, the friction and wear characteristics of some elastomeric materials have been
studied under different operating conditions. The influence of aging of an elastomer
(NBR) on friction and abrasive wear has also been investigated.
Some of the salient conclusions from this work are as follows:
x Friction coefficient of an elastomer sliding against hard counterface at low contact
pressure, where the hydrodynamic effects are significant, is affected by the surface
topography of elastomer, but at high contact pressure, the friction coefficient is not
affected by the surface topography of elastomer.
x Aging the nitrile rubber in ester base fluids reduces the friction coefficient. The
ester base oils can diffuse in the nitrile rubber more rapidly than the mineral oils
resulting in a decrease in internal friction of elastomer. Therefore, the friction
coefficients of a hard slider against aged elastomer samples in ester base oils are
lower than those against aged rubber in mineral oils.
x Depending on the mechanism of wear and the oil-elastomer compatibility, the
presence of lubricant may decrease or increase the abrasive wear of elastomers. If
the oil can penetrate the surface of the elastomer, it will have a detrimental effect
on its wear behaviour. However, lubricating fluids decrease the frictional force
which has an important role in the tearing action resulting in abrasive wear.
Decreasing the frictional force also decreases the heat generation in the
counterface which is another factor in weakening the elastomer and higher
abrasive wear.
x Aging the NBR in any of tested fluids increases the abrasive wear. Aging the NBR
in ester base fluids and rapeseed oil leads to the highest increase in abrasive wear.
x In unidirectional abrasive wear, both scratches (parallel to the direction of sliding)
and ridges (perpendicular to the direction of sliding) have been observed on the
worn surface of elastomer.
x The ridges on the worn surfaces are formed close to the zone of maximum contact
pressure where the elastomer penetrates in more voids and the contact pressure is
more distributed on the surface of elastomer. Increasing the contact pressure and/or
using finer abrasives accelerate but the presence of lubricant in the contact
decelerates the formation of ridges.
x In dry sliding of rubber against steel surface, the results show that the friction
coefficients drop during running-in periods to steady state values which can be due
to the transfer of a thin layer on to the hard counterface.
x The longest running-in periods have been observed during sliding against fine
surfaces. As the roughness of hard sliding surface increases, the mechanical action
exerting on the elastomer surface increases and consequently the formation of
transferred layer on to the counterface is accelerated leading to rapid decrease in
friction.

29
30
7 Future work
The existing theoretical knowledge to estimate the friction coefficient of elastomers is
focussed on the hysteresis component of friction which is the dominant component of
friction when an elastomer slides against a rough surface (e.g. road surfaces). The
significance of adhesive component of friction coefficient of elastomers sliding against
sealing surfaces, which are relatively smooth, has not been investigated sufficiently. The
investigation of friction of elastomers against sealing surfaces and the comparison with the
existing theories is to be performed in future.
Further, the influence of different parameters, such as contact pressure, abrasive
coarseness and test periods on the lubricated abrasive wear of different sealing elastomers
will also be studied.
In spite of the important roll of three-body abrasive wear of sealing elastomers on the seal
performance, this subject has been studied very scantily. In view of this, three body
abrasive wear of elastomers will also be another part of future work.

31
32
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10) Maeda, K., Bismark, A., Briscoe, B., Effect of bulk deformation on rubber
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Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Vol. 345, No. 1642, (Sep. 1975), p 327-342
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20) Barquins, M., friction and wear of rubber-like materials, Wear, 160, (1993), p1-11
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24) Schallamach, A., Friction and abrasion of rubber, Wear, 1, (1958), p 384-417
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mechanisms of wear of NR, SBR and HNBR vulcanizates under different
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34
Papar A
Tribological behaviour of an elastomer aged in different oils

Mohammad Reza Mofidi*, Elisabet Kassfeldt, Braham Prakash

* Luleå University of Technology, Department of Applied Physics and Mechanical


Engineering, Luleå SE- 971 87 Sweden

Tel: +46 (0)920 491038, Fax: +46 (0)920 491047; E-mail Address:
mohammad.r.mofidi@ltu.se

________________________________________________________________________
_

ABSTRACT
This paper presents the influence of aging the nitrile rubber, the most popular seal
material, in various base fluids on sliding friction and abrasive wear. The lubricants used
are synthetic esters, natural esters, different types of mineral base oils, poly-Į-olefins and
very high viscosity index oils. Friction has been studied for two directions of motion with
respect to lay on the elastomer sample by using the SRV Optimol test machine. These
findings show that as compared to all other lubricant formulations, ageing the elastomer in
polyol ester leads to the maximum reduction of friction coefficient especially in
perpendicular sliding to the initial lay on the surface. The abrasive wear studies were
carried out by using a two body abrasive wear tester against dry and lubricated elastomer.
It was interesting to note that two body abrasive wear of elastomeric material was higher
during rubbing in presence of the fluids as compared to that in dry condition. Further,
aging the elastomer in these base fluids especially in ester base fluids, results in more
abrasive wear.

Key words: Elastomers; Lubricating fluids; Friction; Abrasive wear

1 INTRODUCTION
Elastomers have some very useful properties such as low Young’s modulus, large
elongation- to- break and high value of Poisson’s ratio which make them suitable for
many sealing applications. Seal is a component which prevents the leakage of fluids or gas
from the machine and contamination entering the machine. Most seals operate in presence
of oils during their service life. Friction and wear are two important factors in seal
performance and the overall efficiency of the machine. Therefore, the interaction between
oils and elastomer and its influence on friction and wear behaviour of elastomer has an
important role in seal performance. The aim of this study is to investigate the influence of
aging nitrile rubber in different oils on its tribological behaviour.

1
1.1 Friction
The coefficient of friction of a rubber surface during sliding against a hard surface in
lubricated conditions can be expressed in terms of the contribution of liquid, adhesion, and
deformation (hysteresis) components. The contribution of adhesion component is related
to the asperity peaks where the fluid film is extremely thin and has properties distinct from
the bulk lubricant in the voids. The lubricant film at asperities peaks has some of the
properties of draped elastomer and shear strength at these areas is considerably higher than
those of other areas [1]. Adhesion is generally recognized to consist in the making and
breaking of junctions at a molecular level. Several theories have been proposed to describe
the adhesion component of friction. These studies have confirmed that the adhesion
friction of elastomer against hard surface decreases with the decrease in the Young’s
modulus and it is a function of viscoelastic properties of elastomer which in turn depend
on temperature and sliding velocity [2], [3].

In contrast to the ploughing action of metal-on-metal friction, the sliding elastomer flows
readily over the rigid asperities of the mating counterface and conform to their contours.
The deformation component of friction produced by such flowing action is called
hysteresis. The existence of hysteresis friction is a consequence of energy loss associated
with internal damping within the viscoelastic body [4]. Like the adhesion component of
friction, the hysteresis component of friction is also a function of viscoelastic properties of
the elastomer, but unlike the adhesion friction, the hysteresis friction increases with
decrease in Young’s modulus of elastomer [1].

The fraction of contribution of adhesion and hysteresis friction depends on the geometry
and cleanliness of the mating surfaces. The adhesion component is important only for very
clean and smooth rubber surfaces [5, 6]. The main source of friction in well lubricated
sliding arises from deformation [7, 8]. Greenwood and Tabor performed some tests with
spherical and conical specimens sliding against rubber. They stated that the sliding friction
of spherical specimen, in a well lubricated condition at high loads, is the same as rolling
friction but at low loads the sliding friction is larger than rolling friction. They have
concluded that as the load is reduced, the shearing term becomes more important [7]. The
significance of adhesion friction at low load can be interpreted as the attractive forces as
demonstrated by Johnson et al. [9]. Presence of fluid between rubber and hard substrate
reduces not only the adhesion but also the hysteresis component of friction. On a
lubricated substrate the valleys turn into fluid pools which are sealed off and effectively
smoothen the substrate surface. Smoothening reduces the viscoelastic deformation from
the surface asperities, and thus reduces rubber friction [10, 11].

1.2 Abrasion
Abrasion occurs as a result of local mechanical rupture (tearing) and/or general
decomposition of the molecular network to a low-molecular-weight material
(smearing) [12]. If the hard sliding specimen against rubber is sharp, the abrasion results
from tensile failure and if it is blunt, the abrasion results from fatigue failure. Schallamach
has studied the rubber abrasion in dry condition and reported that the abrasion is
proportional to normal load and proportional to the mean radius of asperity curvature if
they can be approximated to hemisphere and independent of particle size if the particles
are polyhedral [13]. The spacing of the abrasion pattern is proportional to the cube root of

2
the normal load, proportional to the two-thirds power of the particle size of the abrasive
with polyhedral particles, and directly proportional to the size of abrasive hemispherical
particles [13]. Later on Grosch and Schallamach found that on sharp tracks such as
abrasive paper linear wear rate as a result of tensile failure, was proportional to the normal
stress, friction coefficient and inversely proportional to the energy density at break [12].
Southern and Thomas studied abrasion of rubber surface by a razor blade in line contact
and formulated a theory relating the rate of abrasion is to the crack growth characteristics
of the rubber, the angle of crack growth and the frictional force on the blade [14]. Zhang
and Yang have introduced a theoretical wear equation of rubber abrasion in a line contact
from the viewpoint of energy on the basis of experimental results [15]. Muhr et al. have
studied the influence of lubrication on the abrasion of rubber by blade in line contact.
They observed that when a lubricant is applied, a much finer pattern develops and the rate
of abrasion is much lower but the horizontal force on the blade does not decrease so
dramatically [16, 17]. Chandrasekaran and Batchelor have studied the friction and wear of
butyl rubber sliding on abrasive paper as a function of temperature and load. They
conducted dry and lubricated unidirectional sliding tests and reported that the presence of
lubricant reduced the coefficient of friction but accelerated wear due to chemical
degradation of rubber [18].

1.3 Seal-oil compatibility


Elastomers can swell and/or degrade in chemical seal environments through reactions with
the polymer backbone and cross-link system, or by reactions with the filler system [19].
Presence of the polar side-groups in the backbone chain increases the oil resistance of the
polymer [20]. Crosslinking also limits the degree of polymer swelling by providing tie-
points (constrains) that limit the amount of solvent that can be absorbed into the polymer
[20]. Nitrile rubber is a copolymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene. NBR is a low-cost
elastomer with good mechanical properties. The concentration of acrylonitrile in the
copolymer has a considerable influence on the polarity and swell resistance of the
volcanizates in non-polar solvents. The greater the acrylonitrile content, the less the swell
in motor fuels, oils, fats, etc [21]. However the elasticity and low temperature flexibility
also become poorer. The mechanical properties of elastomers are affected by oils. Van der
Waal [22] and Torbacke and Johansson [23] have studied the influence of different base
fluids on the changes in mechanical properties of elastomers. Generally the influence of
ester base fluids on deterioration of nitrile rubber is more significant in comparison to that
of mineral oils and PAOs [23]. Some elastomers are sensitive to polar compounds. The
difference between the chemical structure of ester base fluids and mineral oils and PAOs
is the existence of more carboxylic groups in ester base fluids which are polar groups.

2 EXPERIMENTAL WORK
Two series of experiments, including friction and two body abrasion tests have been
performed. The influences of ageing the elastomer in different types of base oils on the
friction coefficient and abrasive wear have been investigated.

2.1 Friction tests


The friction tests have been carried out by using Optimol SRV machine. The machine
reciprocates an upper cylindrical specimen loaded against lower specimen. The motion of

3
cylinder is parallel to its axis. The friction force is measured by piezoelectric force
sensors. Temperature, normal force, frequency of motion and stroke length can be
controlled during the tests. The diameter of the cylinder is 15 mm and its length is 22 mm.
The edges of the slider are chamfered/rounded off with a view to minimise the edge effect.
Figure 1 shows the test configuration and the surface topography of the slider.

Reciprocating
holder
Upper specimen
(Steel cylinder)

Elastomeric
sample
3.3
mm
0.4 mm Surface topography of the slider
The geometry of
the edges of
slider

Parallel sliding Perpendicular sliding

Figure 1: Test configuration for friction studies under reciprocating sliding conditions by using
Optimol SRV machine (left); Surface topography of the slider, Ra = 0.80 nm, Rq =107 nm (right).

The rubber specimens used in friction tests were washed in industrial petroleum for 3
minutes by using an ultrasonic cleaner and then dried for 10 minutes.

2.2 Abrasion tests


The two body abrasion tests were conducted by using an abrasive wear tester (Figure 2). It
consists of a table that holds the specimen and reciprocates it against an abrasive paper
wrapped around the circumferential surface of a wheel (ø50 mm × 12 mm thick). The
wheel is turned by a fraction of one rotation at the end of each stroke so as to enable the
rubbing of elastomer against fresh abrasive surface. The frequency of reciprocation of the
test specimen was 100 cpm and the stroke length was 30 mm. All abrasive wear tests were
run for a total of 160 cycles. All these tests have been done at room temperature (22 ±
2 ºC).

4
Reciprocating holder

Elastomer
Backing support
surface
plate

Abrasive tape
on wheel
Figure 2: Test configuration for abrasive wear studies under reciprocating sliding

The rubber test specimens were washed in industrial petroleum for 3 minutes by an
ultrasonic cleaner, dried in an oven for 20 minutes at 45 ºC and then weighed. The same
procedure was repeated after running the test for each specimen to quantify abrasive wear.

2.3 Test materials and lubricants


The elastomer which has been studied is acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR). The
content of acrylonitrile in the tested elastomer is 28%, which is common for oil
applications. This elastomeric material is vulcanized by sulphur. The polymeric content is
44% and the remaining part consists of different types of additives. The rubber samples
used in these studies were in the form of sheets of 4mm thickness. The initial hardness of
the elastomer was 75±5 IRHD (international rubber hardness degrees). The surface was
examined in a Wyko 3D optical surface profilometer. The elastomer surface was
characterised by parallel grooves (Figure 3) and are caused during moulding of
elastomeric sheets in steel mould.

Figure 3: Surface topography of the fresh elastomer sample (Ra=0.344 ȝm, Rq=0.438 ȝm)

The test specimens for tribological studies were cut out from the elastomeric sheets. For
friction studies, discs of ø25 mm and 4 mm thickness were used. In abrasive wear tests,
rectangular sheet specimens of 40 mm × 20 mm and 4 mm thickness were used.

5
The lubricating fluids used were paraffinic, naphthenic, 2 PAOs, 2 VHVIs, monoester,
diester, polyolester, complex ester and rapeseed oils. The base fluids used in these studies
and their properties are listed in Table 1.

Table 1: The properties of lubricants


Base fluid Density (kg/m3) Viscosity@40ºC (cSt) NPI
Naphthenic base oil 896 30.0 —
PAO2 830 28.5 —
PAO1 790 5.5 —
VHVI2 830 26.0 —
VHVI1 822 12.0 —
Paraffinic base oil 870 34.1 —
Diester 910 (20°C) 26.1 82
Complex ester 980 46.0 80
Polyol ester 900 35.5 170
Monoester 864 (20 °C) 8.5 102
Rapeseed oil 910 (30 °C) 34.0 190

The aged elastomer samples were prepared by immersing them in different base fluids at
125 ºC for one week.

3 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


Figure 4 shows the average values of friction coefficients during sliding of bearing steel
cylinder against the non-aged rubber sample in the presence of different base fluids.

0.8
Perpendicular sliding Parallel sliding
0.7
Coeficient of friction

0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
2

1
2

1
c

r
r
l

er
er
oi

te
VI

VI

te
O

O
ni

ni

st
st

es
PA

PA

es
VH

VH
he

ffi

ie
oe
ee
ra
ht

ol
ex
D
on
es
Pa
ap

ly
pl
ap

Po
N

om
R

Figure 4: Coefficients of friction of non-aged samples in different base oils (Temperature: 40 ºC,
Load: 100 N, Frequency: 50 Hz, Stroke: 1 mm, Test duration: 15 min)

6
It shows that there is no correlation between the friction coefficient and viscosity. It means
that the sliding occuring mainly is in boundary or mixed lubrication regime. When the
slider reciprocates parallel to the direction of lay on the rubber surface, the friction
coefficient is marginally higher than that in perpendicular sliding. In perpendicular sliding,
the oil can be trapped within the grooves which may result in some hydrodynamic effects
and subsequently lower the friction coefficient. It confirms the Patir and Cheng’s [24]
results for rubber.

Figure 5 shows the average values of friction coefficients on aged rubbers in different base
fluids. Comparison of friction results in Figures 4 and 5 shows that aging the rubber in
synthetic esters leads to decrease in friction coefficient.

0.8
Perpendicular sliding Parallel sliding
0.7

0.6
Coeficient of friction

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0
2

r
c

er
er
2

r
l
c

oi

te
te
O

ni
VI

VI
ni

st
st

es
PA

PA

es
ffi

ed
he

VH

VH

ie
oe
ra

ol
se
ht

ex
on
Pa

ly
ap

pl
M
ap

Po
om
N

Figure 5: Coefficients of friction of aged samples in different base oils (Temperature: 40 ºC, Load:
100 N, Frequency: 50 Hz, Stroke: 1 mm, Test duration: 15 min.)

Investigation of the surfaces of the tested specimens shows that the worn surface areas of
the aged specimens are considerably less than those of non aged specimens.

The two body abrasive wear results of aged and non-aged rubbers in dry and lubricated
conditions have been shown in Figure 6. It shows that the abrasive wear of both aged and
non-aged nitrile rubber in lubricated condition is higher than that in dry condition.

Aging the rubber in any base fluid, especially in ester base fluids and rapeseed oil leads to
more abrasive wear as well, but the influence of presence of oil is more significant than
that of aging especially for mineral oils. Use of the monoester base fluid has resulted in
highest abrasive wear of non-aged and aged rubber samples.

7
Figure 6: Abrasive wear of aged and non-aged elastomer by using different base fluids (Abrasive grit
size: # 500, Load: 500 gr, Speed: 100 c.p.m, Abrasive wheel rotation: 1/200, Total cycles: 160)

The changes in the mechanical properties of the same compound of nitrile rubber in the
same base fluids were investigated previously by Torbacke and Johansson [23]. Our
results have not shown any clear correlation between the changes in friction coefficient
and changes in mechanical properties due to aging in different lubricating fluids (Figure
7).

8
Figure 7: Friction coefficient vs. the changes in mechanical properties of aged rubber in different base
fluids

It seems that the changes in the physico-chemical properties of the surface of exposed
rubber, rather than changes in mechanical properties may play a more significant role in
determining the frictional behaviour. Figure 8 shows the correlation between the abrasive
wear and the changes in mechanical properties. The decrease in tensile strength of rubber
due to aging in monoester fluid seems to cause relatively higher abrasive wear.

9
Figure 8: Abrasive wear vs. the changes in mechanical properties of aged rubber in different base
fluids

Figure 9: Abrasive wear and friction coefficient vs. the non polarity index (NPI) of oils

Figure 9 shows the abrasive wear and friction coefficient as a function of the non-polarity
index of oils (NPI). It can be seen that in both aged and non-aged samples abrasive wear is
maximum when the monoester with NPI 102 is used. However, non-polarity index does
not seem to have any influence on frictional behaviour.

10
4 CONCLUSION
Ageing the nitrile rubber in the synthetic ester base fluids leads to reduction of friction
coefficient. This effect in reducing the friction coefficient, especially in perpendicular
sliding to the initial lay on the surface, is more considerable for the sample aged in
polyol ester. The presence of the base fluids increases the abrasive wear of tested nitrile
rubber. Ageing the nitrile rubber in the lubricating fluids increases the abrasive wear in
both dry and lubricated conditions. The maximum change in abrasive wear due to aging is
observed for the samples aged in monoester. Dry abrasive wear of the aged nitrile rubber
in ester base fluids is higher than that in the mineral oils. The influence of presence of oil
on increasing the abrasive wear is more significant than that of aging.

REFERENCES
1) Moore, D.F., The Friction and Lubrication of Elastomers, Pergamon Press, 1972.
2) Moore, D.F., A review of adhesion theories for elastomers, Wear, 22(1972), p 113-
141.
3) Persson, B.N.J., On the theory of rubber friction, Surface science, 401, (1998), p
445-454
4) Moore, D.F., A review of hysteresis theories for elastomers, Wear, 30(1974), p 1-
34.
5) Persson, B.N.J., Volokitin, A.I., Rubber friction on smooth surfaces, European
Physical Journal E, 21-1, (Sep.2006), p 69-80
6) Fuller, K. N. G., Tabor, D., The Effect of Surface Roughness on the Adhesion of
Elastic Solids, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A,
Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Vol. 345, No. 1642. (Sep. 1975), p 327-342.
7) Greenwood, J.A., Tabor, D., The Friction of Hard Sliders on Lubricated Rubber:
The Importance of Deformation Losses, Proc. Phys. Soc., 71, (1958) p 989-1001.
8) Trachman, E.G., Williams, R., Ping Sheng, Orientation effects in the friction of a
hard ellipsoid sliding on rubber, J. applied physics, 48-8 (1977), p 3270-3273.
9) Johnson, K. L., Kendall, K., Roberts, A. D., Surface energy and the contact of
Elastic Solids, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A,
Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Vol.324, No.1558. (Sep. 1971), p 301-313.
10) Persson, B.N.J., Albohr, O., Tartaglino, U., Volokitin, A.I., Tosatti, E., On the
nature of surface roughness with application to contact mechanics, sealing, rubber
friction and adhesion, Journal of Physics Condensed Matter, 17-1, Jan 12, (2005),
p R1-R62
11) Persson, B.N.J., Tartaglino, U., Albohr, O., Tosatti, E., Sealing is at the origin of
rubber slipping on wet roads, Nature Materials, 3-12, December, (2004), p 882-
885
12) GENT, A. N., PULFORD, C. T. R., Mechanisms of Rubber Abrasion, Journal of
Applied Polymer Science, 28 (1983), p 943-960.
13) Schallamach, A., On the Abrasion of Rubber, Proc. Phys. Soc., B 67, (1954), p
883-891.
14) Southern, E., Thomas, A. G., Studies of rubber abrasion, Rubber Chemistry and
Technology, 52-4, (Nov/Dec, 1979), p 1008-1018.

11
15) Zhang, S. W., Yang, Z., Energy theory of rubber abrasion by a line contact,
Tribology International, 30-12, (1997) p 839-843.
16) Muhr, A. H., Roberts, A. D., Rubber abrasion and wear, Wear, 158 (1992) p 213-
228
17) Muhr, A. H., Pond, T. J., Thomas, A. G., Abrasion of rubber and the effect of
lubricants, J. Chim. Phys., 84 (1987) p 331.
18) Chandrasekaran, M., Batchelor, A.W., In situ observation of sliding wear tests of
butyl rubber in the presence of lubricants in an X-ray microfocus instrument,
Wear, 211 (1997), p 35-43.
19) Information obtained from the website: http://www.pspglobal.com/prop-chemical-
compatibility.html
20) Patil, A. O., Coolbaugh, T. S., A LITERATURE REVIEW WITH EMPHASIS ON
OIL RESISTANCE, Rubber Chemistry and Technology, (Jul/Aug 2005), 78- 3, p
516
21) Hofmann, W., Rubber Technology Handbook, Hanser, Munich, 2001
22) Van der Waal, G., The Relationship Between the Chemical Structure of Ester Base
Fluids and their Influence on Elastomer Seals, and Wear characteristics, J.
Synthetic Lubrication, 1-4, (1984), p 35-47.
23) Torbacke, M., Johansson, A., Seal Material and Base Fluid compatibility: An
overview, J. Synthetic Lubrication, 22-2, (2005), p 123-142.
24) Patir, N., Cheng, H. S., An average Flow Model for Determining Effects of Tree-
Dimensional Roughness on Partial Hydrodynamics Lubrication, J. Lubrication
Technology, 100,(1978), p 12-17.

12
Paper B
Two body abrasive wear and frictional characteristics of NBR
elastomer under lubricated sliding conditions

Mohammadreza Mofidi, Braham Prakash*

Division of Machine Elements, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå SE-971 87 Sweden

* Tel: +46 920 493055, Fax: +46 920 491047, braham.prakash@ltu.se

________________________________________________________________________
_

Abstract
Understanding the mechanisms of abrasion of an elastomer in the presence of lubricants is
of importance in sealing applications. In this research a block on ring configuration was
used to study the influence of lubrication on the abrasion of acrylonitrile butadiene rubber
(NBR), the most commonly used seal material. The friction force and the worn mass of
the samples were recorded and the worn surfaces were investigated using an optical
microscope. Both scratches (parallel to the direction of sliding) and ridges (perpendicular
to the direction of sliding) were observed on the worn surfaces. The scratches appeared on
the contact surfaces at the beginning of sliding and the ridges were formed after a certain
sliding duration. The worn surfaces of NBR samples sliding against finer abrasives were
characterized by more defined ridges. Increasing the contact pressure accelerated the
formation of ridges but the presence of a lubricant in the contact decelerated the ridge
formation. The wear of the NBR elastomer in the lubricated condition is slightly lower
than that in the dry condition. The friction coefficient decreased significantly in presence
of the lubricant, especially during sliding against finer abrasives and at higher contact
pressure.

Keywords: Elastomer, Abrasive wear, Friction

1 Introduction
Most seals operate in the presence of lubricants during their service life. Friction and wear
are two important factors in seal performance and the overall efficiency of the machine.
Wear reduces the sealing ability. Therefore, the influence of lubricants on wear
mechanisms of elastomers has an important role in seal performance.

1.1 Friction
The coefficient of friction of a rubber surface against a hard surface can be expressed in
terms of the contribution of adhesion, deformation (hysteresis), viscous and cohesion
(tearing) components [1, 2]. However; most texts consider only two terms for friction

1
components. They suggest that the tearing and viscous components can be represented by
deformation and adhesion respectively [1]. Adhesion is generally recognized as the
making and breaking of junctions at a molecular level [3]. Hysteretic friction is a
consequence of energy loss associated with internal damping within the viscoelastic
body [4]. The cohesion component of friction is the contribution of wear to the bulk losses
and the viscous component is the viscous drag under wet condition [1]. Presence of fluid
between rubber and hard substrate reduces not only the adhesion but also the hysteretic
component of friction. The lubrication decreases the real contact area between the rubber
and hard counterface resulting in a decrease in friction coefficient. This effect is more
pronounced at higher velocities due to hydrodynamic effects. On a lubricated surface, the
valleys turn into fluid pools which are sealed off and thus make the
surface smooth (Figure 1). This smoothening reduces the viscoelastic deformation caused
by the surface asperities, and reduces rubber friction [5, 6].

Rubber
Fluid

Hard counterface Hard counterface

Figure 1: Smoothing the counterface in presence of lubricant [6]

1.2 Wear
Any estimation of abrasion of rubber needs to take into account the mechanism of wear.
Three different mechanisms of wear can be identified when an elastomer slides against a
hard counterface [1]. During sliding against a hard countersurface with a sharp texture,
abrasive wear takes place as a result of tearing of the sliding surface of the elastomer.
Fatigue wear is another mechanism of wear which occurs on the surface of an elastomer
sliding against blunt projections on the hard counterface. When a highly elastic elastomer
slides against a smooth surface, roll formation occurs. In this type of wear, the high
frictional force shears a projection on the rubber surface, tears and then rolls the tongue
along the direction of sliding [1]. A critical value of shear stress can be defined for each
rubber above which roll formation occurs, and below which wear is mainly due to fatigue.
Thus the friction coefficient is one of the most important properties of rubber governing
the type of wear [7]. In practice, a combination of three forms of wear occurs and it is
difficult to separate the contribution of each mechanism to the overall wear [1].

Another classification of wear of elastomers introduces two mechanism of wear of


elastomers sliding against hard counterface. Mechanochemical decomposition of the
molecular network to a low molecular weight leading to a tar-like wear product (smearing)
and cohesive rupture (tearing) [8]. The oily decomposition product which forms during
smearing protects the underlying rubber from tearing and thus decreases the rate of
wear [9]. Experiments show that the rate of wear during smearing decreases by
introducing antioxidants [9, 10].

2
The worn surface of an elastomer may exhibit different appearance. When rubber is
abraded without a change of direction, sets of parallel ridges, perpendicular to the
direction of sliding, are often found on the surface [11]. The surfaces of elastomers worn
by fatigue wear exhibit pitting marks and the surfaces of harder elastomers, sliding against
sharp asperities, exhibit scratches parallel to the direction of sliding [12]. The mechanism
of abrasion leading to the ridge formation has been studied extensively [11, 13-17]. Most
of previous experiments on the mechanism of ridge formation have been carried out using
a line contact configuration. The formation of ridges starts by initiation the cracks at the
rear of the contact region, due to the high shearing stress, and continues by growing the
cracks under repetitive loading [14]. The scratches, parallel to the sliding direction, occur
on the surface of elastomers sliding in point contacts with sharp asperities. The elastomer
surface is pulled in the direction of sliding and fails in tension behind the contact
perpendicular to the tensile stress field (Figure 2) [18].

Figure 2: Mechanism of scratch and ridge formation on the sliding surface of elastomer [14, 18]

Muhr et al. have studied the influence of lubrication on the abrasion of rubber by a blade
in line contact. They observed that when a lubricant is applied, a finer pattern develops
and the rate of abrasion is reduced, but the horizontal force on the blade does not decrease
as dramatically [19, 20]. Chandrasekaran and Batchelor have studied the friction and wear
of butyl rubber sliding on abrasive paper as a function of temperature and load. They
conducted dry and lubricated unidirectional sliding tests and reported that the presence of
lubricant reduced the coefficient of friction but accelerated wear due to chemical
degradation of rubber [21].

1.3 Elastomer - oil compatibility


When an elastomer and a base fluid are brought in contact with each other, the elastomer
material may absorb the base fluid or the base fluid may extract soluble constituents of the
elastomer. The base fluid may also react with the elastomer [22]. Presence of the polar
side-groups in the backbone chain increases the oil resistance of the polymer [23].
Crosslinking also limits the degree of polymer swelling by providing tie points
(constrains) that limit the amount of solvent that can be absorbed into the polymer [23].
Nitrile rubber (NBR) is a copolymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene and provides a low-
cost elastomer with good mechanical properties in sealing application. The concentration
of acrylonitrile in the copolymer has a considerable influence on the polarity and swell
resistance of the vulcanizate in non-polar solvents. The greater the acrylonitrile content,
the lower the amount of the swell in motor fuels, oils, fats, etc [24].

3
Abrasion of sealing elastomer is a type of seal failure and reduces the sealing ability. This
study aims at investigating the effect of lubrication on the mechanisms of abrasion and
their contributions to the overall wearing of elastomer surfaces.

2 Experimental
The experiments were carried out using Micro-Tribometer UMT-2. The rubber specimen
glued to a metal backing plate was pressed against an abrasive tape glued on to the
circumferential surface of a rotating steel ring. The normal and frictional forces were
recorded by piezoelectric sensors. The schematic of the test configuration is shown in
Figure 3. The rubber specimens’ dimensions were 16 mm×4 mm×2 mm (the width of
contact area was 4 mm). The steel rings were of ø35 and 8 mm thick. The rubber
specimens were washed in industrial petroleum for 3 minutes using an ultrasonic cleaner
and dried in an oven for 10 minutes at 40 ºC and then weighed. The same procedure was
repeated after running the test for each specimen to quantify wear. All the tests were
performed at room temperature (22 ± 2 ºC). The worn rubber surfaces were examined
using an optical microscope.

Figure 3: Test configuration

Two sets of SiC abrasive tapes with different grit sizes (#120 and #500) were used in these
experiments and the effect of lubricant on the abrasion of the rubber was studied. The
speed of the ring was 1 r.p.m. and the tests were run for 1, 2 and 3 minutes. For longer
tests, the abrasive tape was changed after 1 revolution of the ring, so that, the rubber
always slid against the fresh abrasive tape during the entire test duration. The tests were
run at two different loads. The test parameters are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Test parameters


Test parameters Load, N Abrasive grit size, # Number of revolutions
Level 1 1.5 500 1
Level 2 15 120 2
Level 3 - - 3

4
The elastomeric material studied is acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR), the most
commonly used seal material. The rubber samples were cut out from the elastomeric
sheets of 2 mm thickness. The nominal hardness, tensile strength, elongation at break and
density of NBR elastomer are given in Table 2.

Table 2: The propertiesof NBR


Hardness, Tensile strength, Elongation Density,
Shore A MPa at break, % g/cm3
76.1 25.4 466 1.31
The lubricant used in these experiments was a mineral oil (paraffinic oil) with a density of
870 kg/m3 and a viscosity of 34.1 cSt at 40 °C.

All the experiments were performed twice to check for repeatability.

3 Results and discussion


To understand the effect of a lubricant on the wear mechanism, the lost mass and friction
coefficient were measured and the worn surfaces were examined by using an optical
microscope.

3.1 Worn surfaces


The experiments were carried out at two levels of contact pressure. It can be observed that
a combination of both ridges (perpendicular to the direction of sliding) and
scratches (along the direction of sliding) were formed on the contact surfaces of elastomer.
Figure 4 shows the typical worn surfaces and the position of ridges. The ridges were
concentrated close to the front part of contact region which is at higher contact pressure.
As the sliding distance increases, the worn surface is characterized by a larger area of
ridges (Figure 5).

Figure 4: The worn surfaces of rubber samples sliding against (a) coarse abrasives (left) and (b) fine
abrasives (right) in dry condition, Load = 15 N, number of revolutions = 2 rev.

5
Figure 5: The worn surfaces of rubber samples sliding against coarse abrasives in dry condition,
(a) after 1 revolution, (b) after 3 revolutions, Load = 1.5 N

The formation of the ridges on the surfaces sliding against fine abrasives was more
recognizable than that on the surfaces sliding against coarse abrasives (Figure 6).

Figure 6: The worn surfaces of rubber samples after 2 revolutions, Load = 15 N

The ridges formed more rapidly in the dry condition than in the lubricated condition. The
presence of lubricant results in a decrease of the real contact area between the asperities of
abrasives and the rubber surface (Figure 1). Therefore, the shearing stress is concentrated
on the areas in contact with the top of asperities and consequently the surface of the rubber

6
is pulled in the direction of sliding more locally. The local shearing stress results in the
formation of scratches parallel to the direction of sliding. In dry condition, the shear stress
is distributed more uniformly on the apparent contact area resulting in more uniform
tensile stress at the rear of the apparent contact area and consequently the formation of
continuous ridges (Figure 2).

3.2 Wear
The wear measurements do not show a strong repeatability, possibly owing to the short
test duration. Figure 6 shows the lost mass of the worn elastomer as a function of number
of revolutions at low load. The results show a negative lost mass of the rubber sample
sliding against a coarse abrasive paper at one revolution of sliding distance. This may be
due to the absorption of the lubricant into the rubber. For the short sliding distance on the
coarse abrasives, tearing occured on the surface of rubber and the net mass loss of rubber
was minimal. The lubricant was easily absorbed into the torn surface of the rubber and
was not completely removed during washing process. As shown in the Figure 7, the
presence of the lubricant reduced the mass loss in most test conditions. However, this does
not mean that the net mass loss of rubber in lubricated condition was necessarily less than
that in dry condition. The results show that the worn mass of rubber sliding against fine
abrasives over a short sliding distance at low load in lubricated condition is slightly higher
than that in dry condition.

Figure 7: Lost mass of the elastomer as a function of number of revolutions

7
3.3 Friction
As shown in Figure 8, the friction coefficient in the dry condition was higher than that in
lubricated condition. The reduction in friction coefficient can be explained from the
adhesive and hysteretic friction components. The separating lubricant layer in the contact
decreases the adhesive friction and the sealing effect decreases the hysteretic friction. The
difference between dry and lubricated friction coefficients at high load is more
pronounced than that at low load, especially on fine abrasives. The apparent contact area
at high load is larger than that at low load and the lubricant which is trapped in the middle
of the contact region has less opportunity to escape from the contact. Thus, sealing the oil
in the void spaces between asperities was more effective at decreasing friction coefficient.

Figure 8: Friction coefficient as a function of number of revolutions

4 Conclusion
Abrasive wear and friction of NBR under lubricated sliding condition were studied. Both
scratches (parallel to the direction of sliding) and ridges (perpendicular to the direction of
sliding) were observed on the worn surfaces. The ridges on the worn surfaces were formed
close to the zone of maximum contact pressure. Increasing the contact pressure and/or
using finer abrasives accelerated the formation of ridges. Presence of a lubricant in the
contact decelerated the ridge formation. The wear of the NBR sliding under lubricated
condition is slightly lower than that in dry sliding. The lubricant decreases the friction
coefficient, especially in sliding against finer abrasives at higher contact pressures.

8
Acknowledgements
The elastomeric material used in this work was supplied by Mr. Stellario Barbera (SKF
Sealing Solutions, Italy) and Mr. Joop Vree (SKF Engineering Research Centre, The
Netherlands) and we thankfully acknowledge their support. The authors express their
gratitude to Dr, Richard Schaake (SKF ERC) for his usfull suggestions concerning this
manuscript. Finally, the authors also thank the SKF ERC management for their permission
to publish this work.

References
1. Moore, D. F., “The Friction and Lubrication of Elastomers”, 1st ed, Pergamon
Press, New York, 1972, p. 14, 198, 264, 265, 266
2. Ludema, K. C., PHYSICAL FACTORS IN TYRE TRACTION, Physics in
Technology 6 (1975) 11-17
3. Moore, D. F., A review of adhesion theories for elastomers,Wear 22 (1972) 113-
141
4. Moore, D. F., A review of hysteresis theories for elastomers, Wear 30(1974)1-34
5. Persson, B. N. J., Albohr, O., Tartaglino, U., Volokitin, A.I., Tosatti, On the nature
of surface roughness with application to contact mechanics, sealing, rubber friction
and adhesion, E., J. Phys.-Condes. Matter 17 (2005) R1-R62
6. Persson, B. N. J., Tartaglino, U., Albohr, O., Tosatti, E., Sealing is at the origin of
rubber slipping on wet roads, Nature Materials 3 (2004) 882-885
7. James, D. I., Jolley, M., E., Abrasion of rubber, MacLaren & Sons Ltd., London,
1964, p. 48
8. Gent, A. N., Pulford, C. T. R., Mechanisms of rubber abrasion, J. Appl. Polym.
Sci. 28 (1983) 943-960
9. Pulford, C.T.R., Antioxidant Effect during Blade Abrasion of Natural Rubber, J.
Appl. Polym. Sci. 28 (1983) 709-713
10. Schallamach, A., Abrasion, Fatigue, and Smearing of Rubber, J. Appl. Polym. Sci.
12 (1968) 281-293
11. Schallamach, A., Friction and abrasion of rubber, Wear 1 (1958) 384-417
12. Thavamani, P., Khastgir, D., Bhowmick, A. K., Microscopic studies on the
mechanisms of wear of NR, SBR and HNBR vulcanizates under different
conditions, J. Mater. Sci. 28 (1993) 6318-6322
13. Uchiyama, Y., Ishino, Y., Pattern abrasion mechanisms of rubber, Wear 158, 141
(1992)
14. Southern, E., Thomas, A. G., Studies of rubber abrasion,, Rubber Chem. Technol.
52 (1979) 1008-1018
15. Zhang, S. W., Yang, Z., Energy theory of rubber abrasion by a line contact, Tribol.
Int. 30 (1997) 839-843
16. Iwai, T., Uchiyama, Y., Shimosaka, K., Takase, K., Study on the formation of
periodic ridges on the rubber surface by friction and wear monitoring, Wear 259
(2005) 669-675

9
17. Fukahori, Y., Yamazaki, H., Mechanism of rubber abrasion. I: Abrasion pattern
formation in natural rubber vulcanizate, Wear 171 (1994) 195-202
18. Schallamach, A., Abrasion of rubber by a needle, J. Polymer Sci. 9 (1952) 385-404
19. Muhr, A. H., Pond, T. J., Thomas, A. G., Abrasion of rubber and the effect of
lubricants, J. Chim. Phys. 84 (1987) 331-334
20. Muhr, A. H., Roberts, A. D., Rubber abrasion and wear, Wear 158 (1992) 213-228
21. Chandrasekaran, M., Batchelor, A. W., In situ observation of sliding wear tests of
butyl rubber in the presence of lubricants in an X-ray microfocus instrument, Wear
211 (1997) 35-43
22. Torbacke, M., Johansson, A., Seal material and base fluid compatibility: An
overview, J. Synthetic Lubrication 22 (2005) 123-142
23. Patil, A. O., Coolbaugh, T. S., A LITERATURE REVIEW WITH EMPHASIS ON
OIL RESISTANCE, Rubber Chem. Technol. 78 (2005) 516-535
24. W. Hofmann, Hanser, “Rubber Technology Handbook “, Munich, 2001

10
Paper C
Influence of counterface topography on sliding friction and
wear of some elastomers under dry sliding conditions

Mohammadreza Mofidi, Braham Prakash*

Division of Machine Elements, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå SE-971 87 Sweden

* Tel: +46 (0)920 493055, Fax: +46 (0)920 491047

_____________________________________________________________________

ABSTRACT
In this work, the friction and wear behaviour of acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR),
hydrogenated acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (HNBR), acrylate rubber (ACM) and
fluoroelastomer (FKM) against steel surfaces under unidirectional dry sliding conditions
have been studied. The influence of surface roughness of the steel counterface on friction
and wear was studied by using a block on ring test configuration. At low load, the friction
coefficient decreased after a running-in period and the wear was insignificant, especially
for the acrylate rubber and fluoroelastomer. The running-in time in terms of achieving a
stable dry friction for the different elastomers, from longest to shortest is: HNBR, NBR,
FKM and ACM. An exception is FKM sliding against a smooth steel counterface. At
higher contact pressure, powdery worn particles on the ACM and a decrease in friction
coefficient were observed but for FKM and HNBR, worn particles with roll shapes were
produced. The worn particles of FKM were significantly larger than those of the other
tested materials and more severe wear was measured.

Keywords: Elastomer, Friction, Wear

1 INTRODUCTION
Elastomers are characterised by low Young’s modulus, large elongation- to- break and
high Poisson’s ratio. These properties make them suitable for various sealing applications.
Friction and wear are two important factors in seal performance and the overall efficiency
of the machine. Most seals operate in the presence of oils during their service life but at
times, such as the starting up of the machine, they operate in dry conditions. Although
such periods are short, the seal may exhibit high friction coefficient and wear. Wear may
affect the sealing ability. Therefore, the friction and wear behaviour of seal material in dry
conditions may play an important role in seal performance.

1.1 Friction
The coefficient of friction of rubber during sliding against a hard counterface may be
attributed to the contribution of adhesion, deformation (hysteresis), viscous and tearing
components [1, 2]. However; some researchers considered only two terms of friction
components. They considered that the tearing and viscous components can be represented
by adhesive and deformation components respectively [2-4]. Adhesion is generally

1
recognized to consist of the making and breaking of junctions at a molecular level. Several
theories have been proposed to describe the adhesion component of friction. These studies
have shown that the adhesive contribution to friction of an elastomer against a hard
surface decreases with decreasing Young’s modulus and it is a function of the viscoelastic
properties of the elastomer which in turn depend on temperature and sliding
velocity [2, 5].

The deformation component of friction is caused by the flowing action of the elastomer
over the rigid asperities of the mating counterface and has been termed as hysteresis
losses. The occurrence of hysteretic friction is a consequence of damping within the
viscoelastic body [6]. Like the adhesion component of friction, the hysteretic component
of friction is a function of viscoelastic properties of the elastomer. Unlike the adhesive
friction, the hysteretic friction increases with the decrease in Young’s modulus of the
elastomer [2]. If the applied pressure is high then the rubber is squeezed into complete
contact with the substrate. The magnitude of the hysteretic component of friction depends
on h/Ȝ (the ratio of asperity height amplitude to the wavelength of the roughness) [3].
Thus, if the ratio between the amplitude and wavelength is constant, the surface roughness
of different length scales contributes equally to the friction force [3]. The minimum length
scale which contributes to the friction force is limited by the microstructure of rubber and
the contamination of contact area [4].

The contribution of adhesion and hysteresis to friction depends on the geometry and
cleanliness of the mating surfaces. The adhesion component is dominant on very clean and
smooth surfaces [7, 8]. It can also be significant at low loads, even in lubricated
conditions [9] because of the significance of the attractive Van der Waals’ forces between
the surfaces in comparison to the normal load [10].

1.2 Wear
Wear of elastomers occurs as a result of two processes; local mechanical rupture (tearing)
and decomposition of the molecular network to a low molecular weight (smearing) [11].
The mechanical rupture of rubber against smooth hard substrates can be due to fatigue or
frictional wear. The strength of rubber has a considerable effect on the wear resistance. A
critical value of shear stress can be defined for each rubber above which, roll formation
occurs and below which wear is mainly due to fatigue. Thus the friction coefficient is one
of the most important parameters governing the type of wear [12]. Fatigue wear as a result
of repeated deformation cycles takes place when rubber slides against hard and blunt
projections on the hard surface at low frictional force [13]. The surface of rubber which is
worn by frictional wear or roll formation is characterized by ridges perpendicular to the
direction of sliding but in fatigue wear the worn surface does not bear any visible ridges
except pitting marks [14].

1.3 Running-in
The determination of friction of rubber requires specification of the history of the two
rubbing surfaces. Wear of rubber, through tearing or smearing, can result in changes in the
geometry and properties of the surface contact area and consequently the friction force.
When an unlubricated rubber slides against the same counterface repeatedly, a decrease in
friction may occur until a complete layer of material is deposited from the rubber onto the
opposing surface. However, when the rubber slides continuously against a fresh
counterface, the friction force increases [15].

2
The metal may also wear during running in period. When a rubber slides against a metallic
counterface, molecular segments of the freshly ruptured rubber may adhere to the metallic
surface under the action of Van der Waals’ forces forming a lubricating layer of rubbery
material. The free radicals of segments in the rubbery layer react with the metallic oxide
surface and produce a metal oxide-polymer complex which is weaker than the metal oxide
itself and detaches more easily from the surface [16]. This process results in wear of the
metallic counter-surface and formation of a layer which has properties quite different from
both the rubber and metal affecting the friction force.

In particular situations, such as starting periods, seals may operate in dry conditions which
can affect their performance significantly. Understanding the tribological behaviour of
seal materials during the initial start-up and run-in periods is relevant for predicting the
performance of the seal. Regarding the application, the contact pressure between an
elastomeric seal and sealing surface may vary from a few tens of KPa to a few tens of
MPa [17]. The aim of this study is to investigate the friction and wear behaviour of four
sealing elastomers in dry sliding conditions. The influences of surface topography of
countersurface and contact pressure on the friction and wear characteristic during the run-
in period have also been studied.

2 EXPERIMENTAL WORK
The experiments were carried out using Micro-Tribometer UMT-2. A rubber specimen
glued to a metal backing plate was pressed against a rotating steel ring counterface. The
normal and frictional forces were recorded by piezoelectric sensors. The schematic of the
test configuration is shown in Figure 1. Three sets of bearing steel rings with different
ranges of surface roughness were used to study the effect of surface roughness on friction
and wear. Figure 2 shows the typical surfaces of the three sets of the steel rings. Each test
was run for 12 hours duration. The rubber specimen dimensions were 16 mm×4
mm×2 mm (the width of contact area was 4 mm). The rubber samples were cut from
sheets of 2 mm thickness. The counterface bearing steel rings were of ø35mm (outer
diameter) and 8 mm thick. The rubber specimens were washed in industrial petroleum for
3 minutes using an ultrasonic cleaner dried in an oven for 10 minutes at 40 ºC and then
weighed. The same procedure was repeated after running the test on each specimen in
order to quantify wear. Each ring was washed in industrial petroleum for 3 minutes by
using the ultrasonic cleaner and dried before the test. A new ring was used for each test.
All the tests were performed at room temperature (22 ± 2 ºC).

Figure 1: Test configuration

3
The elastomers studied during this work are commonly used seal materials, acrylonitrile
butadiene rubber (NBR), hydrogenated acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (HNBR), acrylate
rubber (ACM) and fluoroelastomer (FKM). All the elastomers have a module of elasticity
of about 10 MPa at very low speed and room temperature. The nominal hardness, tensile
strength, elongation at break and material densities of these elastomers are given in Table
1. The surfaces of the bearing steel rings were characterised by a Wyco 3D optical surface
profilometer. Figure 2 shows the typical surface topographies of the three sets of rings and
the range of average surface roughness (Ra).

Table 1: Tested elastomers and their properties

Hardness Tensile strength Elongation at Density


Elastomeric materials
(Shore A) (MPa) break (%) (g/cm3)

Nitrile rubber (NBR 3143) 76.1 25.4 466 1.31

Hydrogenated nitrile rubber


71.3 17.5 303 1.24
(HNBR 7611)
Acrylic rubber (ACM ) 73.4 7.8 171 1.49

Fluoro rubber (FKM 7327) 72.8 - - 2.03

Fine surface (0.15<Ra<0.3 μm) Fine surface (0.35<Ra<0.55 μm) Fine surface (0.5<Ra<0.7 μm)

Figure 2: Surface topographies of steel rings

The experiments were carried out at two contact pressures. The wear and frictional
behaviour of the material (running-in and steady state friction) were studied. At low
contact pressure the influence of surface roughness was also investigated. Using the Hertz
contact theory, the contact pressure at low load (1.5 N) is estimated to be about 240 KPa
which is of the order of the contact pressure on a new elastomeric lip seal. At higher
load (10 N) a contact pressure of 750 KPa is expected which is in the range of the contact
pressure between an elastomeric O-ring and an actuator rod. All the tests were performed
twice.

3 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

3.1 Friction
Friction coefficients of the elstomers were affected by changes in the contact surface.
These results are presented and discussed below.

4
3.1.1 Frictional behaviour at high contact pressure
Figure 3 shows the worn surfaces of different elastomers tested at high contact pressure of
240 KPa. As shown in the figure, roll formation occurred on the surface of FKM and
HNBR. Furthermore, a white powdery layer has been formed on the surface of ACM. The
surface of NBR was torn locally but no roll formation occurred (see also Figure 4).

Figure 3: Worn surfaces of the tested rubbers (Normal load: 10 N, speed: 10 r.p.m, duration:
12 hours, surface roughness of rings: 0.35-0.55 ȝ)

Figure 4: Worn particles of FKM and HNBR

Figure 5 shows the friction coefficient of the tested rubbers against the bearing steel rings
of medium roughness. The highest friction coefficient has been observed in tribological
pairs involving FKM followed by HNBR which may, in part, be due to the energy
dissipated in the tearing and roll formation. The friction coefficient of ACM increases
gradually during the test which may be due to changes in the properties and/or the
dimensions of the particles in the powdery layer between the surfaces.

5
Figure 5: Friction coefficient vs. time, (Normal load: 10 N, Speed: 10 r.p.m, Surface roughness,
Ra: 0.35 - 0.55 ȝ)

3.1.2 Frictional behaviour at low contact pressure


Figures 6-9 show the friction coefficients of NBR, HNBR, FKM and ACM respectively.
The friction coefficients drop during running-in periods to steady state values with the
exception for FKM sliding against fine counter-surface. The longest running-in periods
have been observed during sliding against fine counter-surfaces. The shortest running-in
time were observed for FKM. The decrease in friction coefficient during running-in
periods may be due to the deposition of a layer of filler and low molecular components
from the rubber onto the surface of the ring. Smearing as a result of the decomposition of
the molecular network to low molecular components may be another reason for the
decrease in friction coefficient.

Figure 6: Friction coefficient of NBR vs. time, (Normal load: 1.50 N, Speed: 10 r.p.m.)

6
Figure 7: Friction coefficient of HNBR vs. time, (Normal load: 1.50 N, Speed: 10 r.p.m.)

Figure 8: Friction coefficient of FKM vs. time, (Normal load: 1.50 N, Speed: 10 r.p.m.)

Figure 9: Friction coefficient of ACM vs. time, (Normal load: 1.50 N, Speed: 10 r.p.m.)

The average value of the friction coefficient was calculated from the steady state friction
coefficient values during the last 5000 seconds of the test (Figure 10). The error bars in the
figure indicate the difference between the results of repeated tests. The steady state values

7
of friction coefficients increase as the surface roughness decreases with exception for
FKM. The surface roughness has the minimum and maximum effects on the steady state
friction coefficient of ACM and HNBR respectively.

Figure 10: Steady state friction coefficient (average value of friction coefficient)

A low friction layer, including fine particles, has been formed on the sliding surface of
ACM and the deformation of the surface of the rubber is more affected by the dimensions
of the particles than the surface roughness of the ring. Thus the hysteresis
component (which is the most dominant component of steady state friction) is not much
affected by the roughness of the ring.

The steady state friction coefficient of FKM against the rough surface is higher than that
on the surface with medium surface roughness. Further investigations, taking into account
the various material properties and the surface roughness of the ring at nanoscale are
required in order to clearly explain this effect.

3.2 Wear
At low contact pressure, no severe wear occurred on the surface of elastomers and the lost
mass of the tested elastomers were very small (less than 0.5 mg). Figure 11 shows the
worn mass of the tested elastomers at high contact pressure. Roll formation occurred on
the surface of FKM and HNBR resulting in severe wear; see Figure 4. Although, the roll
formation occurred on the surface of HNBR, the amount and dimensions of worn particles
are much smaller than those on FKM. Consequently the worn mass of HNBR was much
lower than that of FKM. The surface of ACM was also worn and fine worn particles were
produced on the sliding surface but the surface of NBR torn locally and the worn mass
was low.

8
Figure 11: Worn mass of the tested rubbers (Normal load: 10 N, speed: 10 r.p.m, duration: 12 hours,
surface roughness Ra: 0.35-0.55 ȝ)

It is important to keep in mind that conditions in the above tests and some sealing
applications may differ and therefore the rating of the performance in terms of wear and
friction could be different, e.g. a shear layer, such as observed in the ACM measurements,
may not form in another environment, such as in presence of a lubricant.

4 CONCLUSION
The frictional characteristics of four different seal materials (NBR, HNBR, ACM, and
FKM) during sliding against steel countefaces of varying roughness values have been
investigated. At low contact pressure, the results show that the friction coefficients drop
during running-in periods to steady state values. The longest running-in periods were
observed during sliding against smooth surfaces. Apart from FKM, the steady state
friction coefficient increases as the surface roughness decreases. The surface roughness
has the least and most effects on the steady state friction coefficient of ACM and HNBR
respectively.

At high contact pressure, roll formation occurred on the surfaces of FKM indicating
severe wear. The roll formation also occurred on the surface of HNBR but its worn mass
was much lower than that of FKM. The worn particles of the ACM had a powdery form
but the worn particles of FKM and HNBR were in roll shapes.

Acknowledgements
All elastomeric materials and steel rings used in this work were supplied by Mr. Stellario
Barbera (SKF Sealing Solutions, Italy) and Mr. Joop Vree (SKF Engineering Research
Centre, The Netherlands) and we thankfully acknowledge their support. The authors
express their gratitude to Dr. Richard Schaake (SKF ERC) for his useful suggestions
concerning this manuscript. Finally, the authors also thank the SKF ERC management for
their permission to publish this work.

REFERENCES
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p 11

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1964
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10