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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J008141/1
Title: The Dynamics of Nanolubricants within a Tribological Contact
Principal Investigator: Wong, Dr J
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 November 2011 Ends: 31 October 2013 Value (£): 95,751
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Analytical Science Eng. Dynamics & Tribology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Sep 2011 Materials,Mechanical and Medical Engineering Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This proposal concerns research into the functioning mechanisms and effectiveness of nanoadditives (NAs) in lubricated contacts. This particular application is chosen here because NAs, such as molybdenum disulphide, fullerenes and dispersed PTFE (Teflon), are being increasingly considered for use in formulation of advanced lubricants. Lubricant nanoadditives (NAs) are broadly defined as nanoparticles (NPs) that are deliberately added to a lubricant to obtain desired properties. Greener, more efficient lubricants can only be developed through thorough molecular understanding on lubricating mechanisms under realistic working conditions. Currently, mechanisms of how NP interacts with lubricant contacts are not known. Previous research either infers behaviour from indirect methods, or only correlates macroscopic responses, such as friction & wear, to macroscopic control variables such as load, speed, etc. The proposed work is aimed at radically change the research landscape by introducing methods to directly observe NPs' behaviour, in the nano-scale, in and around the lubricated contact.

The proposed work will focus on the dynamics and behaviour of NPs around and within tribological contacts, and their effectiveness as NAs. The overall aim of the proposed research is to understand the interactions between NPs, base oil and the rubbing surfaces and how these influence NPs' lubricating properties and the rheology of a formulated lubricant. The effect of substrate properties and NP surface properties, NPs' size and the relative velocity of the two rubbing surfaces will also be explored. The proposed research constitutes a vital step towards exploring and understanding the lubricating mechanism of NPs. Various researchers have hypothesised different lubricating mechanisms when NPs is added in lubricant and the proposed work provide results that could be used to directly verify simulation works. The findings will contribute to improved understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of lubrication and the role of NPs in forming boundary films. The research will also contribute to improved strategies for wear and friction reduction both in lubricant formulations and engineering components design.

The study will develop advanced in-contact analytical techniques to allow in situ observation of the dynamics of NPs under confined conditions. A test apparatus for this purpose will be constructed, and advanced, single particle/molecule level fluorescence techniques will be applied to track NPs in-situ in very thin film lubricated contacts under engineering conditions. This will allow correlation of macroscopic observables, such as frictional force and wear damage, to nanoscopic/molecule level behaviour, such as self-assembly and adsorption-desorption kinetics of nanoadditives. It should be noted that the experimental approaches that will be devised during the research programme are generic and will have applications to several other engineering fields such as multiphase flow and microfluidics.

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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk