Nanostructured Al2O3/Graphene Additive in Bio-Based Lubricant: A Novel Approach to Improve Engine Performance

Hettiarachchi, Sunil Jayantha; Bowen, James; Kershaw, Matthew; Baragau, Ioan-Alexandru; Nicolaev, Adela and Kellici, Suela (2023). Nanostructured Al2O3/Graphene Additive in Bio-Based Lubricant: A Novel Approach to Improve Engine Performance. Tribology International, 186, article no. 108619.



Personal and industrial use of internal combustion engines (ICEs) is projected to continue until 2050 and beyond. Yet demands to reduce global dependence on petrochemicals and fossil fuel-derived lubricants are increasing and environmentally necessary. New strategies for maintaining and enhancing ICE performance by reducing friction, wear, fuel consumption, and exhaust emissions will reduce the depletion of mineral and fossil fuel reserves and environmental pollution. This paper reports the tribological enhancement of nano-bio lubricants formulated using 2D nanocomposites of Al2O3/graphene as novel additives in coconut oil, whose performance as a lubricant compares favourably with the mineral-based engine oil 15W40. Structural, compositional, and morphological characterization of an Al2O3/graphene nanocomposite synthesized via thermal annealing revealed an ultra-fine particle size (<10 nm) with spherical/laminar morphology and a rich sp2 domain, exhibiting a consistent colloidal stability when formulated as nanofluid. Through the use of various characterisation techniques, including friction and wear analysis we gained valuable insight into the tribological mechanism. Our optimisation of 2D tribological system using coconut oil formulation resulted significant reductions in the coefficient of friction (28%), specific fuel consumption (8%), and exhaust pollutants (CO, SO2, and NOx) emissions. This work demonstrates the benefits of using nano-bio lubricant formulated using coconut oil and 2D based hybrids as base stock and additives, delivering solutions to global challenges such as improving fuel consumption while reducing environmental pollution; solutions that can be transferred to other areas where lubricants are a necessity.

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