The liquid lubricant of a bearing system operating in the starved or boundary lubrication regime is subject to tribochemical degradation that can deplete the lubricant supply and cause bearing failure. This depletion or consumption of the lubricant is a function of both lubricant and substrate chemistry. It can also depend on the test environment. In this paper, the relative consumption rates of Krytox 143AC™, a popular perfluoropolyether (PFPE) vacuum lubricant, in rolling contact with 440C stainless steel are studied for test environments of ultrahigh vacuum (UHV), dry oxygen, dry nitrogen, nitrogen containing water vapor and pure water vapor. The consumption rate is expressed as the lifetime of a finite charge of lubricant in a test.

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