Prospective Research

Based on the above review on the literatures, it can be seen that the efficient way to improve the physical properties of oil-based lubricants is to alter the chemical structure of the substances. Particularly, high degree of branching can lower viscosity index, whereas high linearity can lead to high viscosity index, and relatively poor low-temperature characteristics. In contrast, low saturation can limit oxidation stability, whereas high saturation can result in outstanding oxidation stability. Therefore, there are two main methods to develop ideal green lubricants. One is the modification of the carboxyl group, where the carboxyl group (COOH) of the fatty acid chain is the etherified to glycerol esters and the fatty acids can be obtained by cleavage of such esters, leading to the improved oxidation stability and viscosity. The process is performed on a large scale and is normally catalyzed with acidic or basic catalysts. Another is dodifications of the fatty acid chain. Due to high reactivity, the double bonds of unsaturated fatty acids and their derivatives can form excellent starting points for further modification, such as elective hydrogenation, dimerization/oligomerization, formation of C-C and C-O bonds (branching).

Based on the two general principles, it is expected that both of SBO and oleic acid may be ideal candidates for synthesis of the vegetable oil-based lubricants because for the two oils, epoxidation of double bond, and then conversion of the epoxide ring to ether or ester groups by ring-opening reaction can be easily realized. In the case that alkyl oleate is used as the starting material, OR and OH group should be placed on the double bond site and the physical properties of resulting lubricant should be the best one. Based on this point, it is therefore suggested to synthesize the diester compounds from oleic acid and different diols as the precursor for design of green lubricants with comprehensively excellent tribological properties.

Specially, the first step is the esterification of oleic acid by diol reactant. In this step two ester groups in the middle of chain can be achieved. The second step is the epoxidation of two double bonds to produce a middle compound. Last step should be the ring-opening of epoxide group. To optimize the final compound, it could be helpful to use different diols two groups in the last step. It is expected that two OH groups in the chain may cause the lower cloud point in these compounds. If the cloud points are not satisfied, the other possible way could be the conversion of OH group to ether or ester. Optimization of the reaction condition can be justified based on the evaluation of the physical properties of resulted compounds, including density, viscosity, viscosity index, flash point, pour point, cloud point and oxidative stability as well as tribological performance.

14.4 Summary

Over the past years substantial efforts have been devoted to make environment friendly green waxes, adhesives and lubricants in order to meet multiple technological, economical and social requirements. Such objective is becoming more and more imperative and urgent in the future. It is of considerable interest in both academic research and practical applications to explore the use of renewable resources or various natural products such as crops and vegetables to replace petroleum-derived ingredients in the current products. However, to use the natural resources in a feasible and economical manner we are facing a great challenge for the development of suitable raw materials and/or ingredients for new generation of waxes, adhesives and lubricants. To achieve the proposed aim and to overcome the challenges, first of all is to develop various new chemical methods to synthesize natural ingredients based on different natural products, e.g., natural waxes from various plant oils such as canola, soybean, cottonseed and palm. Furthermore, it is also necessary to employ various approaches to completely understand the correlations between composition, microstructure and property of a wax, adhesive or lubricant and the interactions between various ingredients in a blending system, with an emphasis on the various relationships between functionality, structural parameter and processing condition, such as crystal size, shape, volume fraction, modulus, strength, toughness and setting speed. Based on the review of the current R & D, it has been recognized that thorough theoretical research is evidently lacking in all the aspects of this field, particularly, synthesis, composition/ingredient design, structure-property relationships, and engineering performance.

Acknowledgments The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from the Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province of China (2010CDA026), and the Science Foundation of Hubei Provincial Department of Education of China (Z20104401).

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Guide to Alternative Fuels

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