This article presents a wear study of Ni⁻Al₂O₃ nanocomposite coatings in comparison to uncoated steel contacts under reciprocating motion. A ball-on-flat type contact configuration has been used in this study in which a reciprocating flat steel sample has been used in a coated and uncoated state against a stationary steel ball under refrigerant lubrication. The next generation of environmentally friendly refrigerant HFE-7000 has been used itself as lubricant in this study without the influence of any external lubricant. The thermodynamic applications and performance of HFE-7000 is being studied worldwide, as it is replacing the previous generation of refrigerants. No work however has been previously performed to evaluate the wear performance of HFE-7000 using nanocomposite coatings. The wear scar developed on each of the flat and ball samples was studied using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). The micrographs show that a combination of adhesive and abrasive wear occurs when using uncoated steel samples. Micro-delamination is observed in the case of Ni⁻Al₂O₃ nanocomposite coatings accompanied by adhesive and abrasive wear. Wear volume of the wear track was calculated using a White Light Interferometer. Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopic (EDS) analysis of the samples reveals fluorine and oxygen on the rubbing parts when tested using coated as well as uncoated samples. The formation of these fluorinated and oxygenated tribo-films helps to reduce wear and their formation is accelerated by increasing the refrigerant temperature. Ni⁻Al₂O₃ nanocomposite coatings show good wear performance at low and high loads in comparison to uncoated contacts. At intermediate loads the coated contacts resulted in increased wear, especially at low loads. This increase in wear is associated with the delamination of the coating and the slow formation of protective surface films under these testing conditions.
Keywords: Ni–Al2O3 nanocomposite coatings; environmental friendly refrigerant; low carbon technology; reciprocating motion; wear.