Oils, greases, fluids and other forms of lubrication are crucial for the mechanical components included in both stationary equipment and vehicles to keep working effectively. Lubricants allow working parts in hydraulic systems and engines to move freely without grinding against each other. This lubrication ensures that no unwanted wear and tear occurs to parts, which could lead to long-term damage.
Combustion and other processes performed by machinery can involve not just physical stress, but pressure from extreme temperatures, such as high heat. To answer this, parts are also protected by oils that work to cool down components. Lubricants also seal off parts from corrosive contaminants like rust, and as oils flow through mechanical systems, they gather unwanted dirt, grime and debris and filter it harmlessly away from working parts, leaving them unclogged and working properly.
While the base oil used for most types of lubrication is often capable of carrying out these roles, different kinds of equipment and the work they must perform sometimes demand a far higher level of performance than these oils are able to deliver. To invigorate these base oils and ensure they can meet the challenges of their specific requirements, leading lubrication manufacturers, such as Aeroshell, Texaco and Quaker-Houghton, have created products that involve infusing oils with specially formulated additives.
Lubricant additives can involve either inorganic or organic compounds that are commonly suspended in oil as solids. They usually represent somewhere from 0.1 percent to around 30 percent of an oil product’s total volume, but this depends on the machinery they are designed to work with. They can involve natural ingredients selected for certain properties they possess or cleverly formulated ingredients in labs to imbue oils with highly specific attributes. For the most part, additives are included to achieve three key results – to enhance existing properties, to suppress unwanted properties and to add all new properties to their chosen base oils.
Enhancing base oil properties
Base oils chosen are typically refined and of high quality. They can be entirely natural, synthetic or even a blend of both. The oil is selected because it has certain sought-after properties, however, these attributes can be amplified by adding a package of carefully selected additives. Once included, these additives, like rust inhibitors, antioxidants and demulsifying and anti-foaming agents, can all boost the base oil’s inherent traits, enhancing its performance.
Suppressing base oil properties
On the other hand, chosen base oils may also have qualities that are undesirable for the equipment they serve. To keep the best qualities but diminish the rest, additives like viscosity index improvers and pour-point depressants are sometimes employed.
Creating all-new properties
Finally, it is also possible for today’s manufacturers to include new attributes that are not naturally found in base oils, allowing them to meet the severe demands of modern machinery. Extensive research and development is undertaken to craft unique man-made solutions. These additives can provide lubricants with tackiness agents, metal deactivators, dedicated detergents and the ability to work at optimum under extreme pressure.