Scientists working on greener engine oil additive

July 24th, 2008 - 2:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 24 (IANS) Scientists are working on a greener engine oil additive with the help of titanium, which will reduce wear and tear and also boost vehicle performance. A titanium compound additive has been found to create a wear-resistant nanoscale layer that binds to vulnerable parts, credibly substituting compounds that don’t agree with antipollution equipment.

Modern lube is a complex, highly engineered mixture, up to 20 percent of which may be special additives to enhance properties such as viscosity and stability and to reduce sludge formation and engine wear, according to experts.

For years anti-wear additives for high-performance oils have been phosphorous compounds, particularly ZDDP, that work by forming a polyphosphate film on engine parts to reduce wear.

Unfortunately phosphorus is poison for automobile catalytic converters, reducing their effectiveness, so chemists have been searching for ways to replace or reduce the use of ZDDP.

Tests of an organic titanium compound demonstrated that it provided superior wear resistance when added to a fully formulated engine oil.

Just how the titanium compound works was an open question.

In a bid to resolve the issue, researchers turned to National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) soft X-ray beam line at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) in Brookhaven.

These instruments use low-energy (soft) X-rays that can be precisely tuned to specific elements to measure chemical bonds both at the surface of a sample and deeper into the bulk of the material.

Powered by the NSLS, the facility is at least 10 times more sensitive than commonly available instruments. The measurements revealed that the anti-wear enhancement comes from titanium chemically bound into the metal structure of the engine surface, forming a hard oxide, iron titanate.

Afton Chemical Corporation (Richmond) and NIST are jointly collaborating on the project.

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