Do modern engines really need friction modifiers?

You might be forgiven for thinking that with the advent of high-tech oils and advances in materials and engine technology, the need for friction modifiers was a thing of the past. Surprisingly, the need for friction modifiers is actually increasing, not decreasing.

Emissions standards and fuel economy requirements are getting ever more stringent. Tighter engineering tolerances and increased demands placed on lubricants means that engine oils are required to fulfil ever greater demands, year after year. The diagram in figure 1 shows the trade-offs made when formulating oils, for instance, between fuel economy and wear.

Figure 1 Specification requirement for ACEA A5/B5 engine oil

Despite incredibly fine machining tolerances, in figure 2 you can see, under magnification, the roughness and unevenness of seemingly polished metal surfaces. When rough metal surfaces rub against each other, the result is friction. Any friction that is created uses up energy and is a drag on performance. The drag created by friction means that the energy which has been extracted from the fuel is wasted by turning it into heat, instead of into movement. Figure 1 illustrates that need to improve fuel economy has an effect on oil specifications and thus oil formulation.

Figure 2 View of two sliding surfaces under magnification

Friction modifier technology is constantly evolving to keep pace with engine requirements. The majority of motor manufacturers have recognised that the most effective way to improve fuel economy is to use lower viscosity lubricants. The trouble with this approach, however, is that there is a point where the viscosity is so low that the lubrication film starts to become unstable under certain conditions. The proliferation of ultra-low viscosity oils in modern engines actually necessitates the use of friction modifiers to reduce friction whilst maintaining a stable lubrication film.

To tackle this problem, we have developed BIZOL Friction Modifier+ o94, which “hardens” the metal surface chemically, forming a slippery, protective layer on the load-bearing surfaces, building up chemically active nano-structures to improve performance and lower fuel consumption.

High-tech approach

Advances in nanotechnology mean that it has been possible to create a friction modifier with active agents so fine that they remain suspended in the oil until the point at which they form a film on the surfaces inside the engine. The chemically-active molecular nano film adds an additional layer to the lubricating film, thereby reducing friction. And because our solution forms such a stable suspension, we can promise you that there is no danger of solids settling or clogging oilways and filters. A clean engine means clean combustion, which, in turn, delivers optimum performance and improved fuel efficiency.

NANO technology refers to particles from a single atom to a structure size of 100 nanometres (nm). Using this technology means that the molecules can get into even the smallest irregularities in metal surfaces. Nano materials are produced chemically (using the “bottom-up” method), building up selected molecules.

The advantages of using nano-additives are their high-temperature thermal stability and ability to react with the surface without an induction period, an important advantage when compared to conventional lubricant additives.

Product benefits at a glance

  • highly effective at reducing friction and wear
  • optimal addition to the existing lubrication film
  • stable suspension, active agents (solids) do not settle or cause blockages
  • faster oil flow during cold-start phase and improved idling characteristics
  • prevents performance loss
  • reduces fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions

Our newest product – BIZOL Friction Modifier+ o94, also features nanotechnology. Learn more about it here:

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