Boron compounds as additives to lubricants
Developing new technological solutions, such as use of lightweight materials, less harmful fuels, controlled fuel combustion processes or more efficient exhaust gas after-treatment, are possible ways to reduce the environmental impact of machines. Both the reduction of wear and the friction control are key issues for decreasing of energy losses, improving efficiency and increasing of the life-span of an engine. Dialkyldithiophosphates (DTPs) of different metals have been extensively used as multifunctional additives in lubricants to control friction and reduce wear in mechanical systems. Among these DTP-compounds, zinc dialkyldithiophosphates (ZnDTPs) are the most common additives used for more than 60 years. These additives form protective films on steel surfaces and, thus, control friction and reduce wear. However, ZnDTPs contain zinc and large amounts of phosphorus and sulphur, which are human health hazards and cause environmental pollution by degrading catalytic converters in automobiles. Therefore, replacement of ZnDTPs by zinc free compounds with reduced amounts of sulphur and phosphorus are urgently needed.
Boron-containing compounds are known as corrosion inhibitors, antioxidants, friction modifiers and effective anti-wear additives either dissolved in oil or as an insoluble and inorganic borate salts dispersed in oil in the nanoparticulate form. These compounds are emerging as attractive replacements for the compounds already used as additives in lubricants. The focus of the present work is on the development and tribological investigations of new boron compounds as high performance additives in lubricants. These should be ashless with significantly reduced amounts sulphur and phosphorus, which is favourable for the environment protection.
The work was carried out in the following steps: (1) Synthesis of new additives; (2) Characterization of the additives with FTIR, (1H, 13C, 31P, 11B) NMR spectroscopy, elemental analysis and thermal analysis (TG/DTG, DTA and QMS); (3) Tribological evaluation using four ball Tribometer; (4) Surface analysis using an optical profiler and Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled with X-ray Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (SEM/EDS). It was found that the novel boron compounds have considerably better antiwear performance and higher stability of the coefficient of friction with time as compared with ZnDTP. These novel compounds are ashless with reduced amounts of sulphur and phosphorus. They also have excellent tribological properties, high thermal stability, good miscibility with oils and positive environmental issues which make them an attractive alternative to ZnDTP.