A lubricant is generally a fluidic material with the primary function of reducing friction between surfaces in contact. Lubricant minimises energy loss generated from friction; at the same time it can also be very useful to clean, cool, and prevent metal parts from corrosion & rust and many such challenges a machine faces during its operation.
For Example: Engine oil is a specific type of lubricant that is developed for application in engines. A good quality engine oil is very essential for the appropriate working of an engine; this helps to operate engine efficiently, prevents from damages and helps in extending the life of the engine.
Composition of a Lubricant:
A lubricant is composed of two substances:
- Base Oils, and
Base oils make-up most of the volume of a lubricant and can either be made of a mineral oil or of a synthetic oil. Mineral base oil can be obtained from a distilling process while refining crude oil, and Synthetic base oils are made by further refining of mineral base oil through laboratory treatments, and few synthetic base oils are manufactured. Base oil can be divided into four groups, usually depending on the purity level of that oil. The Group-I and Group-II are Mineral Base Oils, Group-III is known as Synthetic Base Oil, other base oils falls under Group-IV category.
Additives, which form anywhere between 10-30% of the lubricant’s composition, are required to enhance or add desirable properties to the base oil, such as reducing friction, improving viscosity index, managing deposits and sludge through detergents-dispersants additives etc.
Lubricants are formulated with specific additives & base oils depending upon the application and the benefits expected out of them.
Uses of Lubricants:
Lubricants are used for a variety of applications, for example:
- Engine oils are used for application inside engine. A good engine oil would results in a clean, rust-free engine, would improve fuel efficiency and performance, maximise your engine’s life and reduce vehicular emissions.
- Gear oils are used mainly in automobiles gearboxes: Manual, Automatic etc. Developed generally with high viscosity base oil and selective additives, it ensures superior protection of gear parts from high mechanical pressure.
- Hydraulic oil is used to transfer hydrostatic power in hydraulic machinery.
A good lubricant is a must for any machine, for a variety of reasons. Lubricating oil should be changed often for best results, as recommended by machine/vehicle manufacturer.