Performance of polymer composites lubricated with glycerol and water as green lubricants

A. Trajkovski, N. Novak, J. Pustavrh, M. Kalin, F. Majdič

Applied Sciences 13 (2023) 7413 1-14


The study analysed the tribological performance of five different polymer composites: polyetheretherketone reinforced with 30% carbon fibres—PEEK CF30, polyetheretherketone reinforced with 10% carbon fibres, 10% graphite and 10% polytetrafluoroethylene—PEEK MOD, polytetrafluoroethylene reinforced with 25% carbon fibres—PTFE CF25, polyoxymethylene with 30% carbon fibres—POM CF30 and ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene—UHMW PE. The polymers were tested under the sliding regime of a reciprocating stainless-steel ball on a polymer disc, with test parameters expected for hydraulic valves. Two environmentally safe lubricants were used: glycerol and water. The selected polymer materials and their tribological properties were compared based on the coefficient of friction and the specific wear rate. The worn surfaces were examined using scanning electron microscopy, and the transfer film was analysed using the energy dispersive spectroscopy technique. When tested in glycerol, a comparable and low coefficient of friction was measured for all polymers (~0.02). At the same time, a significantly lower coefficient was measured for all polymers in glycerol compared to water-lubricated conditions (~0.06–0.22). The polymers differed in the measured specific wear rate, which increases significantly in water for all polymers. A lower specific wear rate was measured for three polymers with higher microhardness: PEEK CF30, PEEK MOD and POM CF30. In water, PEEK CF30 showed superior tribological properties under harsh conditions but was well followed by POM CF30, which showed the most intense transfer film.


Keywords: polymer composite, green lubricant, glycerol, water, hydraulics

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