Letter | Published:

Friction Transition Temperature Effect of Matching Surfactant and Carrier

Naturevolume 214pages429430 (1967) | Download Citation



WE have reported1,2 how straight chain hydrocarbon solvents have a specific effect on lubrication with surface active agents. Using a slow running 4-ball machine we showed that lubrication was best when the chain length and shape of the surfactant accurately matched the solvent. We have now confirmed these results using the temperature at which the friction increased sharply in a standard ‘Bowden–Leben’3 machine, kindly lent us by Tube Investments, Hinxton Hall. While this change can be determined with mild steel and fatty acids4, it is very hard to detect with mineral oils. The best way we have found to observe it is to use stainless steel (18 per cent chromium, 8 per cent nickel) for the frictional pair. Friction-temperature curves for a mineral oil with 18/8 stainless steel and with 0.6 per cent carbon steel are shown in Fig. 1. The rise at 60° C for mineral oil has also been reported by Tabor5.

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  1. 1

    Crouch, R. F., and Cameron, A., Nature, 198, 475 (1962).

  2. 2

    Askwith, T. C., Cameron, A., and Crouch, R. F., Proc. Roy. Soc., A., 291, 500 (1966).

  3. 3

    Bowden, F. P., and Leben, L., Proc. Roy. Soc., A, 169, 371 (1939).

  4. 4

    Frewing, J. J., Proc. Roy. Soc., A, 182, 270 (1944).

  5. 5

    Tabor, D., Nature, 145, 308 (1940).

  6. 6

    Matveevsky, R. M., Trans. Amer. Mech. Eng., 87, 754 (1965).

  7. 7

    Kelley, B. W., and Leach, E. F., Trans. Amer. Soc. Lubric. Eng., 8, 271 (1965).

  8. 8

    Groszek, A. J., and Palmer, D. J., J. Inst. Petrol., 47, 295 (1961).

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  1. Imperial College of Science and Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Exhibition Road, London

    • W. GREW
    •  & A. CAMERON


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