Tribol Lett 2018 10;66(2):65. Epub 2018 Apr 10.
2School of Materials, The University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL UK.
This study examined the tribological performance of three gear oils (Oils A, B and C), in relation to surface and microstructural changes. Oil A contains molybdenum dithiophosphate friction modifier, Oil B contains amine molybdate combined with zinc dialkyl dithiophosphate antiwear additive, while Oil C contains phosphonate and a commercial gear oil package. Following sliding tests of a hardened AISI 52100 steel ball on a spheroidized AISI 52100 steel disc, the worn surfaces were chemically studied using Raman and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. The tribological performance for each oil was different, likewise the nature of the tribofilm formed. After a 5 min sliding test, the hardness-depth profile of the worn surfaces was measured; also the cross-sectional microstructure was examined using scanning electron microscopy combined with focused ion beam preparation and transmission electron backscattered diffraction (t-EBSD) techniques. With Oil A, there was a relatively small increase in surface hardness (33% greater than that of the unworn surface), whereas with Oils B and C, the average hardness near the surface was 100% greater than that of the unworn surface. The cross-sectional microstructure using Oil A also differed from Oils B and C, which were quite similar. The result shows that with Oil A refinement of the ferrite grains spreads deeper into the material (> 10 µm), whilst with Oils B and C it was largely limited to 2-3 µm below the surface. It is concluded that the lubricant formulations and their associated tribofilms influenced the extent of deformation in the subsurface layers and consequently influenced the wear performance.