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Mechanism of Lubrication
Fluid-film lubrication Boundary lubrication Extreme Pressure lubrication

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Classification of Lubricants
Solid Lubricants Semi-solid Lubricants Liquid Lubricants

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Properties of Lubricants
Viscosity Viscosity Index Flash and Fire Point Cloud and Pour Point Aniline Point Neutralization Number Iodine Value Saponification Point Emulsion Number Drop Point

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Lubricants are those types of substances which are used to reduce the frictional forces between two surfaces which are in contact with each other. It does not allow the direct contact between two rubbing surface because two surfaces. The process of decreasing the frictional forces between the surfaces is called 'Lubrication'. It plays an important role in machines, tools and many apparatus.

Functions: i) Lubricants reduce the frictional forces between two rubbing surfaces. ii) It reduces the cost of maintenance of machines and fuels. iii) It reduces the heat energy produced by friction. Hence, it acts as a coolant. iv) Lubricants enhance the efficiency of machines of reducing friction. v) Lubricants act as a seal. In internal combustion engine (ICE) it is used as a seal between piston and the cylinder wall and prevents the leakage of gases under the high pressure.

Mechanism of Lubrication
When two metallic surfaces are in contact with each other during motion, then a frictional force is developed. Due to this force, wearing and tearing of metals takes place, as a result of which, the number of peaks and valleys formed on the surfaces of metals.

Peaks and valleys are known as 'Asperities'. Due to these, efficiency of the machine is decreased. When, lubricants are used between the metallic surfaces, formation of asperities get reduced, which minimizes the wear and tear of the metal.

Three types of mechanism of lubricants proposed are:

i) Fluid-film lubrication (Thick-film lubrication) ii) Boundary lubrication (Thin-film lubrication) iii) Extreme pressure lubrication

i) Fluid-film lubrication: It is known as thick film lubrication or hydrodynamic lubrication. It is done which lubricants which are liquid in nature. The thickness of lubricants in this case is about 1000Ao, hence the name 'Thick-Film lubrication'.

This type of lubrication is used in delicate and light machines like watches, clocks, guns, sewing machines and in heavy machines like turbines, submarines etc. Fluid film lubrication is satisfactory done by hydrocarbon oils.

Hydrocarbon oils used are generally mixed with long chain polymers in order to maintain the viscosity of the oil constant in all the season of the year.

ii) Boundary lubrication: It is also known as thin-film lubrication because the thickness of the lubricant used in this type may not exceed one or two molecular layers. Boundary lubrication is necessary when fluid film lubrication fails to maintain the lubrication.

This happens due to the following reasons: (a) Shaft comes into motion (action) from rest. (b) The load is very high. (c) The viscosity of the oil is very low. (d) The speed is very low.

The property of virtue of which, oil sticks to the surface of machine parts even at high temperatures and heavy loads is called oiliness. Due to oiliness, the coefficient of friction becomes very low (0.05 to 0.15).

iii) Extreme Pressure lubrication: When moving surfaces are working under very high temperature and pressure, the ordinary liquid lubricants either vaporises or decomposes. In such cases, extreme pressure lubrication is done.

For this, special additives are used along with the liquid lubricants. Chlorinated esters, sulphurized oils and tricrysl phosphates are some examples.

These additive compounds combine with the metallic surfaces at high temperatures and form metallic chlorides, sulphides or phosphides in the form of a durable film. These films can withstand very high loads and temperatures due to their high melting point.

Extreme pressure lubricants have great advantages: i) They are used in wire drawing machining of tough metals etc. ii) In cutting fluids in machining of tough metals.

Classification of Lubricants
There are 3 types of lubricants: i) Solid ii) Semi-solid iii) Liquid

Good lubricating oil must possess the following properties: i) Low freezing point iii) Thermal stability v) High oxidation resistance vii) Safe storage and handling ii) High boiling point iv) Sufficient viscosity vi) Low pressure

i) Solid Lubricants: Lubricants which exist in solid form are called solid lubricants. Examples are graphite, molybdenum disulphide, soapstone and wax. These are used in heavy machinery which operates under heavy load and low speed. The solid lubricants are used either as such or in suspended form in oil, grease or water. Graphite is the most expensive solid lubricant.

Conditions for using solid lubricants: (a) In heavy machines which operate under heavy load and low speed. (b) When the lubricating oil gets contaminated due to presence of dust and grit particles.

ii) Semi-solid Lubricants: These are neither solid nor liquid. They exist in the gel form like paste or grease. These lubricants consist of soap and certain specific additives for specific purposes. These types of lubricants have high frictional resistance than oils and therefore can support much heavier load at lower speeds. For examples greases, vaseline, waxes, creams etc.

The main function of soap in semi-solid lubricants is that it act as a thickness agent so that the lubricant sticks filmy to the metal surfaces.

iii) Liquid Lubricants: They exist in liquid form and reduce friction or wear between two moving metallic surfaces by providing a continuous film in between them. Liquid lubricants are very important and are widely used in several machines, tools etc. because they act as a sealing agent, corrosion preventer and coolant. Examples are mobile oil, engine oil, mineral oil and vegetable oil.

Properties of Lubricants
i) Viscosity: Viscosity is the property of a fluid that determines its resistance to flow. It is an indicator of flowability of a lubricating oil, the lower the viscosity, greater is the flowability. It is mainly due to the cohesive forces between the molecules of lubricating oil.

Like any other fluid, viscosity of lubricating oil is inversely proportional to temperature i.e. with increase of temperature, viscosity decreases. This is due to decrease in intermolecular attraction. At high temperatures, oil must have sufficient viscosity to carry loads. Hence, heavier oils are used at high temperatures.

At high pressure, viscosity of lubricating oils increases considerably.

Viscosity helps in selection of good lubricating oil. For example, light oils used on parts moving at high speed under less load while heavier oils are used on parts moving at slow speed under heavy loads.

Viscosity is measured by an instrument called viscometer.

There are two important types of viscometer: (i) Saybolt Viscometer (ii) Redwood Viscometer

Viscosity Index: With change in temperature, the viscosity of lubricating oils varies, the higher the temperature, lower the viscosity and viceversa. The rate at which the viscosity of an oil changes with temperature is measured by an empirical number called the 'Viscosity Index'.

A small change in viscosity with temperature is indicated by high viscosity index. In industry, lubricating oils of high viscosity index are since they have practically the same viscosity over a range of temperatures.

Viscosity Index of test oil is determined with the help of two types of standard oils viz. Pennsylvanian oils and Gulf oil having Viscosity Indices 100 and 10 respectively. The Viscosity Index of the test oil is given by the formula:

V.I = L - x 100 L-H


V.I: Viscosity Index of the test oil

L: Viscosity at 100 F of the low-viscosity standard oil having V.I of 10 : Viscoity at 100 F of the oil under test H: Visocity at 100 F of the high viscosity standard oil having V.I of 100

Q1. An oil sample under test has a Saybolt universal viscosity of 64 seconds at 210oF and 564 seconds at 100oF. The low viscosity standard possesses a Saybolt viscosity of 64 seconds at 210oF and 774 seconds at 100oF and 414 seconds at 100oF. Calculate the viscosity index of the oil sample under test.

A. Here, L = 774 seconds, H = 414 seconds, u = 564 seconds

V.I of the given sample of oil is

V.I = L - x 100 LH = 774 - 564 x 100 774 - 414 = 58.33

ii) Flash and Fire Point:

The flash point of oil is the lowest temperature at which it gives off vapours that will ignite for a moment when a small flame is brought near it.

The fire point of oil is the lowest temperature at which the vapours of the oil burn continuously for at least 5 seconds when a small flame is brought near it.

The flash point and fire point are used to indicate the fire hazards of petroleum products and evaporation losses under high temperature operations. Knowledge of flash and fire points in lubricating oil helps in precautionary measures against fire hazards. A good lubricant should have a flash point at least above the temperature at which it is used. Pensky-Marteu Method is used to determine the flash and fire point of lubricating oil.

iii) Cloud and Pour Point:

Cloud and Pour point of petroleum oil is the temperature at which solidifiable compounds like paraffin wax present in the oil began to crystallize or separate from the solution, when the oil is cooled under specific conditions.

At the cloud point, oil becomes cloudy or hazy in appearance. Naphthenic type of oils that are quite wax free show no cloud points.

The pour point of petroleum oil is the temperature at which the oil ceases to flow or pour.

Cloud and Pour point indicates the suitability of lubricants in cold conditions. Lubricants used in machines working at low temperature should possess low pour-point otherwise; solidification of lubricant will cause jamming of the machine.

iv) Aniline Point:

Aniline Point is defined as the minimum equilibrium solution temperature for equal volume of aniline and oil sample.

Aniline point is determined by thoroughly mixing equal volume of oil sample and aniline in a test tube and heating the mixture until a homogeneous solution is obtained. Then, the tube is allowed to cool at a controlled rate. The temperature at which the oil and aniline phases separate out is recorded as the aniline point.

A lower aniline point of oil means a higher percentage of ar0omatic hydrocarbons in it. Since, aromatic hydrocarbons have a tendency to dissolve natural rubber and certain types of synthetic rubber. Thus, higher the percentage of aromatic hydrocarbon or lower the aniline point of oil, more are the chances of deterioration of oil when it comes in contact with rubber sealing.

v) Neutralization Number:

Lubricating oils acidity or alkalinity is determined in terms of Neutralization number. The neutralization number represents either the Total Acid Number (TAN) or Total Base Number (TBN).

The number of milligrams of potassium hydroxide (KOH) needed to neutralize any acid in one gram of oil is called Total Base Number.

vi) Iodine Value:

It is also known as iodine number and may be defined as the number of grams of iodine equivalent to the amount of Iodine Monochloride (ICl) consumed by 100g of oil. It is determined by dissolving known weight of the oil sample in CCl4 and treated

with excess of Wij's solution. (Wij's solution is the solution of iodine monochloride in glacial acetic acid.)

Iodine value determines the degree of unsaturation of oils and fats. Hence, fatty oil has a tendency to absorb oxygen. Iodine value of good lubricating oil should be as low as possible.

vii) Saponification Point:

It is the number of milligrams of KOH required to saponify fatty materials present in one gram of oil. It is determined by refluxing a known weight of oil sample with a known amount of standard alcoholic KOH solution. The unreacted KOH is estimated by titrating against standard HCl solution.

viii) Emulsion Number:

Emulsification is the property by virtue of which oil gets mixed with water to form an emulsion. The quicker the oil separates out from the emulsion, the lower the emulsion number and the better is the lubricating oil.

ix) Drop Point:

The dropping point of soap-thickened lubricating grease is the temperature at which it passes from a semi-solid to a liquid state under specific test conditions. It is an indication of the type of thickener used, and a measure of the cohesiveness of the oil and thickener of a grease.[1] Dropping point is used in combination with other testable properties to determine the suitability of greases for specific applications. It is applicable only to greases that contain soap thickeners. Greases with other thickeners, such as many synthetic greases, do not change state. Instead, they separate oil, and the dropping point as a phase transition does not apply.

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