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Diamond lubricant cuts friction and increases equipment life

By Chemical Engineering |

The lifetime of steel bearings can be extended by up to eight times by a new synthetic diamond lubricant, according to its developer, NanoLube, Inc. (Lombard, Ill.; www.diamondlube.com). The lubricant consists of 0.1–4-nm diamond spheres that are dispersed in a light carrier oil (about 5 wt.%) and coated onto the bearings and other friction-prone surfaces of a machine. When the machine is activated, the spheres become embedded in the surface of the metal, forming a smooth, protective barrier that prevents metal-to-metal contact and spalling, and reduces friction. The only contact is between the smooth diamond coatings, says Christopher Arnold, president of NanoLube. The key to the technology is the company’s low-energy plasma process, which produces the tiny spheres from vaporized carbon in an electrical field. This provides advantages over other synthetic diamond processes, says Arnold. For example, conventional synthetic diamonds, produced from graphite at high temperature and pressure, are crystalline with abrasive edges, not spherical. In side-by-side tests of bearings run by identical motors, bearings treated by the NanoLube product ran cool at 15,700 rpm, while bearings using a conventional lubricant overheated, as…
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