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Fluid lubricants are used in almost every field of human technological activity and their purpose is multi-fold: they reduce frictional resistance, protect the engine against wear between contacting surfaces, remove wear debris, reduce heating and contribute to cooling, improve fuel economy, improve emissions. Advanced nano-materials recently developed, such as inorganic fullerene materials (IFs) and others, have shown some initial promise for their contribution to reducing friction and enhancing protection against wear. The transfer of promising nanotechnology research results into new nanolubricants still represents a bottleneck. If inorganic fullerenes can be manufactured at commercial-scale, incorporated in a stable fashion into full formulations, and their performance benefits can be sustained under those circumstances, they offer the prospect for some performance breakthroughs not seen since the development of the now ubiquitous anti-wear additives, Zinc Dialkyl Dithiophosphates (ZDDP’s), around 70 years ago.

Project at a Glance:

The AddNano project is partially funded by European Commission within the 7th Framework Programme (NMP-2008-1.2.1) and its overall objective is to overcome the technological barriers involved in the development of large scale market introduction of a new generation of lubricants incorporating inorganic fullerenes and other nano- materials
The project is concentrating on the investigation of crankcase oils for diesel engines and grases for ball bearings applications.
The particles selected for engine oils made of MoS2 and are produced with a low cost and scalable wet chemistry synthesis based on polyol. Many efforts were devoted to the effective and stable dispersion of the solid phase into the final fully formualted lubricant. The nanolubricant showed reduced coefficient of friction with respect to a traditional lubricant in laboratory tribological tests.
The new product is now under under investigation in road tests devoted to demonstrate advantages related to fuel economy and improved antiwear properties. On the other hand, WS2 fullerene-like nanoparticles showed reduction of the coefficient of friction and antiwear properties when added to lubricant greases. WS2 nanoparticles are produced with a scaled up industrial method based on the high temperature reaction between solid state tungsten oxide and H2S.
 Project Objectives
The AddNano Project will develop, scale-up and prove pilot lines to produce optimised nano-materials which may then be straightforwardly dispersed into oils. Advanced dispersing and stabilising technologies will be developed in this project, and also extended into practical “full-formulation” technology according to the end-user applications. Other objectives are:
  • to develop environmentally well-managed production methods that avoid potential for impact on production-workers health, and release of harmful chemicals into the environment;
  • to identify and use raw materials for the synthesis of nanoparticles that are suitable for mass production of nano-based lubricants;
  • to prepare new process design methods based on improved understanding of the effects of powder and liquid properties on dispersion and de-agglomeration operations (scale-up of mixing equipment from laboratory scale to industrial scale);
  • to design and select process equipment for the industrial scale production of lubricants incorporating nanoparticles using design rules and numerical models developed within the roject.      

Courtesy of Fiat Powertrain Technologies.

 "In situ HRTEM compression test on a single IF-WS2 nanoparticle". Courtesy of ECL/LTDS.

Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) image of MoS2 nanoparticles. Courtesy of ECL/LTDS and CIDETEC.

Courtesy of FUCHS Europe.