Lubricants are an essential part of the proper function and maintenance of machines and components with two moving parts that rub together. They are used to reduce friction between two parts, but can also be used as a conductive agent to increase the flow of a current.
There are two major categories of lubricants: petroleum-based lubricants and synthetic lubricants. Lubricants derived from petroleum are organic, while synthetic lubricants are created by chemical synthesis processes. Petroleum lubricants are most commonly found in automobile applications, although not as often now that synthetic lubricants have been developed specifically for the automotive industry. Biodegradable lubricants, which are synthetic and designed to break down and disperse harmlessly in the environment, are becoming more widely used in a number of different applications. Each kind of industrial lubricant has different levels of oxidation and degradation and is compatible with only certain machines, temperatures and environments. High temperature lubricants, for example, are able to withstand a wide variety of different environments. They may be liquid like lubricating oil, semi-solid like lubricating grease or they may be dry lubricants, which are made from silicone. Different lubricants exist for specific applications. Engine lubricants are made for the automotive industry while food grade lubricants are carefully produced to be scentless and tasteless and chemically digestible, since there is a possibility it could come in contact with food substances. Marine lubricants are manufactured for machinery located on large ships. Some lubricants have special characteristics and applications. For example, some enhance thermal conduction or reduce electrical receptivity.
Lubricants that are produced by a chemical synthesis have planned and predictable properties and are often used in the aerospace, automotive, marine and musical instrument industries. They were developed after petroleum based lubricants for various reasons, including the need for a more durable lube in extreme temperatures. They are not made of petroleum or a mineral oil base but are chemical alterations of bases such as silicone or esters. They are fire resistant and cool quickly, which are both important characteristics. Natural or organic lubricants are refined and extracted from petroleum and although they are more established than synthetic lubricants, petroleum-based lubricants are losing popularity because synthetics are now less expensive and have a broader range of uses. Organic lubricants are still widely used in the automotive industry as both lubricating motor oil that protects moving parts in an engine and gasoline, which is formulated to produce heat needed to power a car's engine. Biodegradable lubricants, which are derived from plant and animal based sources, are non-toxic and gaining popularity where non-hazardous lubricants are desired and necessary. They are widely used in the food, agricultural and automobile industries.
There are a couple different types of lubricants available, each with a different consistency and use. Grease is a non-liquid, semi-solid lubricant used in high pressure and high friction applications. Unlike oil, it doesn't drip, and is often spot-applied to machinery by a grease gun. Oil is a liquid lubricant that reduces friction, protects against corrosion, reduces electric currents and cools machinery temperatures. It is often used in the automobile industry and is applied to bearings, dies, chains, cables, spindles, pumps, rails and gears to make them run smoother and more reliably. Dry lubricants are also available. These contain no liquid and are used when dripping or spilling would be detrimental to the equipment or environment, or oil and grease aren't recommended. They are synthetic and contain silicone, which is resistant to oxidation and thermal degradation. They have a wide temperature range and may act as both a lubricant and a sealant.
Lubricants are very common in the automotive industry. They are used in the vehicle manufacturing process and in daily vehicle function. Car transmissions, engines, chassis, gears and seals use lubricants, all of which contribute to a vehicle's optimal performance and ensure its reliability. Oil and grease reduce friction between parts, easing wear and increasing the car's life span. Food processing factories and manufacturers require a specific grade of lubricant in their machinery that is non-toxic and will not contaminate the food if contact between the lubricant and food substance occurs. These are usually synthetic, bio-degradable lubricants that are strictly regulated by the FDA. These lubricants are used to decrease friction in grinders, mixers and sealing and packaging machinery. They are colorless and odorless. A common example of a food grade lubricant is petroleum jelly. The marine industry often uses oil lubricants in crosshead and trunk piston engines that are used to propel large ships. The metal fabrication industries use lubricants extensively in the creation of metal products and parts. Lubricants provide an efficiency and smoothness of movement that would otherwise not exist between such hard surfaces as metal. It serves to protect the machine itself as well as the workers who come in contact with it.
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- The force or forces causing two materials, such as a lubricating grease and a metal, to stick together.
- A refined mineral oil, free of additives, used as a component in a lubricant blend.
- The separation of oil from a grease structure. A certain amount of bleeding is considered desirable in greases, since this tends to provide continuous oil lubrication to bearings.
- A liquid in which another immiscible liquid is suspended. Water and oil can be emulsified under certain conditions of oil type and severe agitation. Emulsifying agents are sometimes added to oils for production of cutting fluids, which are to be mixed with water.
- In lubricating grease, the form in which soap thickeners occur, the soaps crystallizing in threads, which are of the order of 20 or more times as long as they are thick.
- A resistance to motion between two surfaces in contact.
- The fluid entering a component.
- A positive displacement (oil or grease) lubricant measuring valve that dispenses lubricant when main line pressure rises and resets when its compressed return spring forces the measuring piston back to its rest position.
- Any substance used to separate two surfaces in motion and reduce the friction or wear of the surfaces.
- Liquids capable of forming a liquid solution or uniform mixture between themselves, e.g. gasoline and oil are miscible.
- Numbers assigned by the NLGI to classify greases according to their hardness as measured by a cone penetration test.
- An electrical or electronic device that compares (monitors) a lubrication systems operation to a user selected time frame, or delivery rate.
- A general term for a water-insoluble thick liquid that possesses lubricating properties.
- Term applicable to crude oil and the hydrocarbon products and materials that are derived from it.
- The ability of a lubricating grease to flow under pressure through the line, nozzle and fitting of a grease dispensing system at varying temperatures.
- Loss of liquid lubricant from a lubricating grease due to shrinkage or rearrangement of the structure.
- The measurement of a fluid's resistance to flow. It is defined as the shear stress on a fluid element divided by the rate of shear; "high viscosity" applies to a fluid which does not flow easily, "low viscosity" to a fluid, such as water, which flows easily.