Why Are Fullerenes Good Lubricants – The Most Fascinating Facts You Really Need to Know

Why are fullerenes good lubricants? Are you interested in this particular application and would you like to know more about it? Fullerenes have absolutely amazing physical and chemical properties and therefore they offer almost infinite list of possible applications.

The use of fullerenes as lubricants, precisely as lubricant additives is one of them.

In this article you will get to know how fullerenes additives improve the attributes of lubricants. It will provide you with all essential information regarding this topic and explain why fullerenes are used as additives in conventional lubricating fluids and not in their crystalline solid state.

The use of nano-additives is a great opportunity how to enhance the performance of lubricant oil.

Nanotechnology is an extremely fast-evolving science. It is already clear nanoparticles are going to play a huge part in the lubricant industry.

Join us and learn more about this exciting topic.


Why Are Fullerenes Good Lubricants – It Is All about Their Structure

You should know that its symmetrical structure set the scientific world on fire. If you look at the model of buckminsterfullerene (formula C₆₀), what you will see is a pure perfection. There are astonishing 120 symmetry operations. In other words buckyball is the most symmetrical molecule of all.


The Early Experiments Proved Fullerenes Additives Could Significantly Improve the Performance of Lubricants

When the scientists realized that they had discovered perfectly symmetrical molecule, they knew it had enormous potential in many applications.

Molecules of spherical shapes suggest they could be good lubricants as they can help reduce friction between microscopically small moving components.

Therefore, when C₆₀ was discovered in 1985, the scientists thought they had found a molecule that could be an ideal lubricant by its own. However, the subsequent experiments did not show such results. But they had realized that C₆₀ molecules could be dissolved in organic solvent toluene.

Such a fullerene enriched fluid significantly reduced the friction between the liquid and the surface through which it flew.


Providing a Proof

Although the scientists did not receive the results they originally hoped for, by series of experiments they had proved that fullerene additives could improve the properties of conventional lubricants.

What they did?

  1. They started with measuring the attractive, oscillating forces between the pair of smooth and transparent sheets of mica which were immersed in toluene. It is also good to know that the distance between the surfaces was varied.
  2. Once they added the liquid that contained small amounts of buckyballs, something changed. They observed that C₆₀ molecules had created thin layers on the mica surfaces.
  3. As a result of that the molecular spheres let the liquid to pass easily between the mica sheets.
  4. How is it possible? Basically the researchers assumed that the soaked up layer of molecules is not strongly bounded to the surface. The second assumption was that the same as in crystalline solid, the buckminsterfullerenes would be rotating fast so that the toluene molecules could slide by smoothly.

To sum their findings up, the researches made series of experiments which led to the realization that the forces between solid layers of C₆₀ molecules without a liquid do not show any significant reduction in friction. However, they also proved that once they had enriched the conventional lubricating fluids with fullerene additives, the fluid was passing smoothly.

They indicated that fullerene additives are effective way how to enhance the performance of lubricants.


What Are the Properties of Fullerene Lubricant?

  • Fullerene additives help to reduce friction.
  • They also improve the wear resistance in places where there are rolling and sliding contacts (chains, gears, ball bearings, pumps, artificial joints and screws).
  • These molecules can withstand high temperature and pressure without any damage (chemically and physically).
  • When incorporated into matrix, they show consistent tribological performance.
  • Another positive fact is also a cheaper production comparing to the production of nanodiamond particles.

Their potential as lubricant additives is huge, because a lubricant that is derived from mineral oils or synthetic hydrocarbon blends does not have properties on its own. Therefore adding fullerene nanoparticles is an effective solution to this problem.


3 Main Benefits of Using Fullerene Lubricants

  1. Saving energy.
  2. Their use helps extending the operating times.
  3. They reduce maintenance in automotive, aerospace and medical sectors.


Fullerenes Are Great Promise for the Lubricant Industry

It is quite simple. Nowadays there are developed engines with requirements on high efficiency results. Such an advanced technology needs new and effective engine oils and lubricants which are more durable and show better performance.

Now you are certain that adding fullerene particles into the fluid base strengthens the properties of the lubricant.

You also know what are the properties of fullerene lubricants and benefits of their use.

Do you agree with the statement that they significantly help saving the energy? And do you think we are going to witness their mass production in a near future?

 Please share your opinion on this topic with us.


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