University of Hertfordshire

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The tribological properties of zinc borate ultrafine powder as a lubricant additive in sunflower oil

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-434
Number of pages10
JournalTribology Transactions
Early online date16 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


This paper presents an investigation on the tribological properties of zinc borate ultrafine powder employed as a lubricant additive in sunflower oil. The stable dispersions of 0.5 wt%, 1 wt% and 2 wt% zinc borate ultrafine powder in sunflower oil were achieved by using an ultrasonic homogeniser. Both a 4-ball tester and a pin-on-disc tester were employed to evaluate the anti-wear and friction reduction capabilities of zinc borate ultrafine powder. Tribo-films with dark colour were generated on the worn surfaces and showed a good contrast with the substrate. The worn surface with different morphologies reflected as the colour alterations on the worn surface were observed when different lubricants were applied. The morphology and elemental analysis of the worn surfaces were studied using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electronic microscopy (SEM). Mechanical properties of the tribo-films and substrates were studied with a nano-indentation tester. Test results suggest that tribo-films generated on the worn surface have a relatively low hardness compared with the steel substrate. The substrates on the worn surfaces lubricated in sunflower oil with the powder demonstrated higher hardness than that of the substrate lubricated with pure sunflower oil due to the possible tribo-chemical reaction between the zinc borate additive and substrate. The combination of sunflower oil with 0.5% zinc borate ultrafine powder has delivered the most balanced performance in friction and wear reduction. This study has demonstrated the possibility of application of this industrially applicable solid lubricant additive (zinc borate) with a decomposable vegetable based lubricant oil.

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