Lubrication is what keeps a bearing in motion over time. It’s a vital element when it comes to the life of a bearing as it works to lower friction while keeping the bearing from overheating. When friction is low, it results in less energy – and in the case of piston assembly friction reduction in internal combustion engines, less gas and oil.
Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology and Technion, discovered a new process that bonds oil to surrounding metal surfaces without additives. They tested the surface of cast iron engin blocks by treating it with a mix of copper sulfide and aluminum oxide via shot peening surface preparation. The chemically modified surface now altered alloys oil molecules bonded with the metal and led to more surface lubricity, lower friction.
According to Georgia Tech Horizons, the researchers reported that the new surface treatment results in an ultra-low friction coefficient of about 0.01 in a base oil environment, which is nearly 10 times less than a friction coefficient obtained on a reference untreated surface.
Horizons further reports that the method for reducing surface friction is flexible and processes like lapping, honing, burnishing and laser shock peening achieve similar results. The alternate processes means that the method can be adapted to other uses and industries.
How will this affect the bearing industry?
If the initial studies prove out over the long term, it will mean longer bearing design life, less energy usage and greater efficiency for bearings. Essentially, it will be a huge win for the industry.