2019 Volume 14 Issue 5 Pages 398-403
This study investigates the effects of both, molecular structure and surface roughness, on the tribochemical decomposition of synthetic base oils under high-vacuum conditions. Nascent steel surfaces exhibit high activity to catalyze the decomposition of synthetic oil under lubricating conditions. Decomposition was performed on multiply alkylated cyclopentane (MAC) and alkyl diphenyl ether (ADE) at the nascent surface of bearing steel 52100 and was monitored by a ball-on-disk friction tester in a vacuum chamber attached to a quadrupole mass spectrometer. Although MAC decomposed, ADE did not decompose on the flat steel surface. Steel surfaces used within this experiment underwent procedural abrasion, providing the requisite roughness to generate the nascent steel surface for the friction test. Decomposition of ADE and desorption of benzene were observed in the presence of the nascent steel surface under friction. As the surface morphology of the pretreated roughened surfaces changed during friction, the contact pressure and plasticity of the surface decreased. We concluded that the tribochemical decomposition of ADE was accelerated on rough steel surfaces by the generation of a nascent surface at the point of metal-metal contact. From these results, the critical role of a nascent steel surface on the tribochemical decomposition of syntheticoils is discussed.