Lubricating grease is defined as a solid or semi fluid product that is applied to lessen friction on surfaces and can also be used to protect metal parts in an engine or machine. When it comes to grease properties and anatomy, we can name three major components that make up lubricating grease. These are the base oil, the thickener, and the additives. Let us take a look at these components one by one:
Base Oil – Most of the grease products you find today in the market are made using mineral oil as the base oil. This is also their fluid component and typically gives the quality and performance rating of the product. Mineral oil is commonly used as the base oil because it performs well in extreme temperatures both high and low and is very stable.
Some grease lubricating products use synthetic oil instead of mineral oil and in this case becomes more expensive but also better in quality. You may usually find synthetic grease used on high performance engines for luxury cars, racing cars, and even industrial machines that are being used for manufacturing or electronics.
Thickener – in lubricants, thickeners are important because they help produce the solid to semifluid structure and give the right viscosity for the product. In the grease lubricants you find today, the primary thickener being used is metallic soap. Some examples of these are aluminium, lithium, polyurea, sodium, clay, and calcium. There has been a trend recently of choosing complez thickener-type greases because they apparently have high dropping points and are also very good for heavy-duty vehicles.
For these complex thickeners, the oil refiners just take metallic soap and combine them with a complexing agent, which is lithium based. This complexing agent is made of a combination of conventional lithium and low-molecular-weight organic acid.
Aside from traditional metallic soap thickeners, non-saop thickeners are also being used and slowly gaining popularity. As of the moment, these non-soap thickeners are being used for high-temperature environments and two examples are bentonite and Silica Aerogel. Both the thickener and the base oil’s qualities contribute greatly to the quality of the grease lubricant.
Additives – Additives have different roles when combined with base oil and thickeners. The most highlighted role is its ability to enhance the good properties in the base oil and suppressing the undesirable properties, thus altering the lubricant and making it a better quality product. Another role additives play in the mixture is to protect the surfaces from oxidation and prevent rusting on metal components/parts. Additives also help give the lubricant properties to withstand extreme temperatures, wear and friction and prevent adverse chemical reactions when the oil contacts metal surfaces when the engine slows down or has a heavy load.
In order to get the best performance from your engine or industrial machines, it is always best to buy quality grease lubricants or check with your expert supplier on what is the appropriate product for your specific car engine or machine. Quality and prices will of course vary, but remember that the most expensive one may not necessarily be what you need.