The improvement of fuel consumption is an important driving force for research and development in the automobile industry in order to minimize greenhouse gas emissions as well as improving fuel economy. Aluminum alloys are a class of alternative materials that are being used to replace cast iron in motor components due to the concomitant weight savings which result in improved fuel efficiency, and cost savings. Our research focuses on these alternative Al-based alloys as well as traditional steel interfaces, and the protective films that form on the surfaces. Currently the zinc dialkyl-dithiophosphates (ZDDPs) have been used as engine oil additives for over 60 years. They are important chemically-active additives, known for their antioxidant and antiwear characteristics. ZDDPs are known to form a protective film (tribofilms) at rubbed surfaces, typically on iron containing metals surfaces commonly used in the automotive industry; however ZDDPs and the products formed are not well suited for the environment as they can readily poison the catalytic converters and their efficacy on Al-Si alloys is not well established.

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