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Sustainable Lubrication and Tribotronics enabled by Ionic Materials

Time: Wed 2022-04-27 09.00

Location: F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26 & 28, Stockholm

Video link:

Language: English

Subject area: Machine Design

Doctoral student: Akepati Bhaskar Reddy , Maskinkonstruktion (Inst.)

Opponent: Prof. Em. Dr. Nicholas Spencer, Department of Materials, ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Supervisor: Professor Sergei Glavatskih, Maskinkonstruktion (Avd.); Professor Mark W. Rutland, Yt- och korrosionsvetenskap


Developments in machine design play a crucial role in the global endeavor towards sustainability. The potential for energy conservation and emission reduction has pushed lubrication research to the forefront, with the lubricant considered to be a vital machine component. As a result of the need for high machine efficiency and longevity, as well as that of greener lubricants, ionic liquids (ILs) are gaining attention for lubrication applications, especially in combination with biodegradable oils. ILs also present a unique opportunity for developing active lubrication, tribotronic systems. To make them an industrially viable option, however, an in-depth understanding of IL lubrication behavior is required. In this doctoral work, investigations of the tribologically relevant ionic boundary films formed by non-halogenated ILs dispersed in a carrier medium (polar solvent or bio-oil) were conducted using a variety of tribological techniques and neutron reflectance. The effect of external actuation by electric potential on the extent, ionic composition, and tribological relevance of the interfacial boundary films was also studied. The results revealed that the ionic architecture and the condition of IL in the oil play an important role in defining the lubricity of the adsorbed boundary films. Clear electroresponsivity was also observed across methods, with the relative concentration of cations and anions in the interfacial film and the lubricating film thickness changing with the electric potential bias. It was established that the anions, playing an anchor role on the surface, are crucial for the formation of robust load-carrying boundary films. A methodology using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy was developed for measuring and characterizing the electric conductivity of complex lubricating greases with ionic and non-ionic additives. According to these measurements, the electrical characteristics of greases depend on the interactions of IL with the grease matrix. Overall, this work contributes towards the development of sustainable lubrication and tribotronic systems using ILs.