SUSU Researchers Found a Method to Improve the Quality of Lubricants for Automobile Engines and Transmissions


The life of modern man is closely tied to transport and automobiles. But besides the undebatable comfort of using modern automobile transport, of course, there are many questions and issues. Every auto lover knows how important oil changes are to improve the service life of equipment, and it most be quality oil.

Associate professor of the Department of Automobile Transport of the SUSU Polytechnic Institute, Igor Levanov, candidate of technical sciences, is completing research with the goal of improving the quality of Russian lubricants. His project, “Study of additives to improve the anti-wear and anti-scuffing qualities of transmissions fluids”, was one of the winners of the Support Young Science contest held at South Ural State University within the 5-100 Project.

“Today, Russian lubricants significantly underperform in relation to the international analogues. But the strategy of import substitution in our country has pushed us to the idea that we can create our own project able to compete with the expensive oils and lubricants of foreign manufacture,” says Igor Levanov.

The Laboratory of Triboengineering researches the processes of friction, lubrication, and construction materials at South Ural State University, where Igor Levanov completes his research. The science of tribology directly studies the processes of friction, wear, and lubrication, and triboengineering is the application of the obtained knowledge in mechanisms. The SUSU Laboratory of Triboengineering is outfitted with modern technologies allowing them to complete tribological and triboengineering research meeting the international levels in this field.

Large manufacturing companies in Chelyabinsk and the Chelyabinsk region contact Igor Levanov when they need to test lubricants, since the SUSU Laboratory of Triboengineering is a division of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Business who need to complete comparative analyses of lubricants contact him when they need to choose between different suppliers. For example, not long ago, the ChTPZ factory sent the laboratory 6 oil samples. An expert analysis was completed for them on the compliance to requirements.

“In recent years in automobile stores special additives for motor oils have appeared. The salespeople promise that they have a miracle effect and will significantly help improve the engine. Simple clients often contact our laboratory to find out the truth about a particular additive. But our independent study has shown that the majority of these additives are not helpful,” explains the SUSU assistant professor.

Additives are a material that is added to oil, fuel, and other substances in small quantities to improve their performance properties.

“I was always skeptical of the use of various additives in motor oil, which already typically have a full range of the necessary additives, before we came across a substance that was really effective. It was geomodifiers of friction – a natural mineral which is added and ground up. When adding this geomodifier to the lubricant material, friction occurs on the surface of a protective film during the working process of the mechanism which protects the mechanism from wear and tear. We started to add it everywhere: to plastic lubricants and transmissions fluids. And the idea was born – why not make our own tribotechnical composition that we can then bring to the market?” says Igor Levanov.

The principle difference of geomodifiers of friction from the other anti-friction and antiwear materials is its ability to form new friction surface structures based on a metal, crystal lattice directly during the operation of the mechanism. South Ural State University researchers are completing many research projects to try and get the result they need.

“We work with staff of the SUSU Faculty of Chemistry who help us develop various additives. In our Laboratory of Tribotechnology, we complete testing of these compositiosn. We also work alongside various institutes, for example, last year we tested new additives for automobile engines and transmissions with South Federal University,” says the young researcher.

Igor Levanov constantly keep track of the developments of his Russian and international colleagues in tribotechnology. He completed a professional internship in the Laboratory of Tribology at Technion at the Israel Institute of Technology. This university in the city of Haifa is one of the oldest and most well known universities in Israel. During his trip the researcher had the great opportunity to exchange experiences and receive information on this topic from his international colleagues.

“In May, staff from our Department of Automobile Transport were at the international conference of tribology in Serbia, SERBIATRIB17, in the city of Kragujevac where I presented the first reults of our research,” continues Igor Gennadyevich, “The materials of this conference are being prepared for printing in the highly rated journal Tribology in Industry. This journal is indexed in Scopus.”

Igor Levanov's ambitious plans include creating his own, successful project and bringing it to the Russian market. In addition, he dreams that his research results will be published in the largest international journal of tribology, Tribology International.


Olga Romanovskaya; photo by Oleg Igoshin, Igor Levanov
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