Scientists have discovered a technique that helps the metal surface efficient enough to stick to engine oil rather than depending on oil additives.
No more oil additives
A recent from the Georgia Institute of Technology would help us to ditch the usage of oil additive in our vehicles. If you haven’t got much idea about the inside of an engine then, there is a piston that constantly moves within a closed space thousand times a minute. Since both piston and engine are made of metal, excessive friction would be generated during the run, thereby by heating up and reducing the efficiency of the engine. In order to avoid this problem, we add engine oil, which acts as a lubricant and reduce the friction between moving parts and stationary parts. But the problem with engine oil is that they are slimy and viscous such that they don’t stick to the shiny and slippery metal surface. Thus once the moving parts set into fast movement, they give up their job. In order to avoid this, an oil additive is added which change the characteristic of oil and make them stick to the metal surface.
The research team has done a modification in the metal surface inside the engine by treating the cast iron surface by blasting it with an Aluminum oxide and copper sulfide mixture. This peening action seemed to make changes on the surface and increased the surface lubricity. This would allow the oil molecules get attached or stay in close connection with the surface of metal. The peening action formed a layer of iron sulfide on the cast iron surface, which in turn forms a strong bond with oil molecules.
What are the benefits?
Oil additives are in fact are costly and increase the cost of vehicle maintenance. Moreover, it is an after-market option in many vehicles. This peening technology has improved the surface friction by a factor of 10. The new surface has achieved an ultra-friction capability of a 0.01 factor when compared to its base form. Moreover, the method has its own benefits by ditching the usage of oil additives and other after-market purchases for improving efficiency.
Also, the peening is highly flexible such that it can be achieved by lapping, honing, burnishing, laser shock etc. This flexibility would make it a versatile procedure in most industries and factories where moving machines are running. The technology is mainly meant for engines, but its application is not limited to engines alone. The researchers are more interested in studying the physiochemical factors that helped this ultra-low friction ability. Moreover, the peening has opened a new meadow for surface engineering in creating metals of extremely low friction. It is a viable thought to anticipate engines that don’t require any oil in the future.
Michael Varenberg, Grigory Ryk, Alexander Yakhnis, Yuri Kligerman, Neha Kondekar, Matthew T. McDowell. Mechano-Chemical Surface Modification with Cu2S: Inducing Superior Lubricity. Tribology Letters, 2016; 64 (2) DOI: 10.1007/s11249-016-0758-8