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Ionic Liquids as Novel Lubricants or Lubricant Additives

For internal combustion engines and industrial machinery, it is well recognized that the most cost-effective way of reducing energy consumption and extending service life is through lubricant development. This presentation summarizes our recent R&D achievements on developing a new class of candidate lubricants or oil additives ionic liquids (ILs). Features of ILs making them attractive for lubrication include high thermal stability, low vapor pressure, non-flammability, and intrinsic high polarity. When used as neat lubricants, selected ILs demonstrated lower friction under elastohydrodynamic lubrication and less wear at boundary lubrication benchmarked against fully-formulated engine oils in our bench tests. More encouragingly, a group of non-corrosive, oil-miscible ILs has recently been developed and demonstrated multiple additive functionalities including anti-wear and friction modifier when blended into hydrocarbon base oils. Mechanistic analysis attributes the superior lubricating performance of ILs to their physical and chemical interactions with metallic surfaces. Cross-sectional nanostructural examination and surface chemical analysis have revealed a protective tribo-film on the contact area, which confirmed the proposed tribo-chemical reactions.

Jun Qu, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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