A new additive was produced from a natural oil and boron. The synthesis involves the use of the epoxidized form of soybean oil which then undergoes a catalytic ring opening to produce the additive material. Due to their remaining triacylglycerol structure, the products are highly compatible with bio-based lubricants and due to their covalent boron attachments, show effective properties for the reduction of wear.
Some performance examples: Using a traditional Falex 4-ball wear test, the scar diameter observed in a soybean oil lubricant could be reduced from 0.61 mm to 0.41 mm by the inclusion of 1% or the additive. A second generation additive, while not as effective at reducing wear, was able to increase the oxidation onset temperature of soybean oil under pressurized oxygen by 14 °C.
Next, these additives were tested in a formulation of biobased gear oil composed of heat treated soybean oil and synthetic esters. In the best formulation, these additives were able to surpass the oxidation onset of a gear oil that was formulated with commercially available additives, while giving nearly as good of performance by wear scar analysis. This oxidation onset value, of 258 °C, approaches that of off-the-shelf gear oils.
Overall, these new additives are strong performers which can be made using simple chemistry. Their properties combined with their high biobased content are valuable assets in the search for biobased lubricants and gear oils.