The use of nano-additives is widely recognized as a cheap and effective pathway to improve the performance of lubrication by minimizing the energy loss from friction and wear, especially in diesel engines. In this work, a simple and scalable protocol was proposed to fabricate a graphene additive to improve the engine lubricant oil. Graphene nanoplates (GNPs) were obtained by a one-step chemical exfoliation of natural graphite and were successfully modified with a surfactant and an organic compound to obtain a modified GNP additive, that can be facilely dispersed in lubricant oil. The GNPs and modified GNP additive were characterized using scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, atomic force microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. The prepared GNPs had wrinkled and crumpled structures with a diameter of 10-30 µm and a thickness of less than 15 nm. After modification, the GNP surfaces were uniformly covered with the organic compound. The addition of the modified GNP additive to the engine lubricant oil significantly enhanced the friction and antiwear performance. The highest reduction of 35% was determined for the wear scar diameter with a GNP additive concentration of approximately 0.05%. The mechanism for lubrication enhancement by graphene additives was also briefly discussed.
Keywords: antifriction; antiwear; engine lubricant oil additives; graphene additives; modified graphene nanoplates.