The growth of thin lubricating films of plant oils
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The extreme conditions of high pressure and shear imposed in a lubricated sliding contact could influence tribochemical reactions that could occur over long sliding distances and time scales, possibly leading to changes in both friction and film thickness. Experiments conducted with 12 plant oils reveal for the first time, that thin lubricating films of some plant oils can grow to thicknesses much greater than what is predicted from either elastohydrodyamic theory or their adsorbed molecular heights. Some films grew as much as 25 times in thickness (unrefined canola oil), while others remained roughly unchanged (flaxseed and olive oil), or grew slightly and then collapsed during the test (safflower oil). The absence of a loss in film thickness and the viscoelastic-like behavior of the film when speeds are reduced to zero, support the view that polymerization could be the main mechanism of film growth. However, the lack of correlation between the degree of unsaturation and the film growth rate suggests that other mechanisms could also be at work.
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