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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Emulsification of chemically modified vegetable oils for lubricant use

item Doll, Kenneth - Ken
item Sharma, Brajendra

Submitted to: Journal of Surfactants and Detergents
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/9/2010
Publication Date: 12/27/2010
Publication URL:
Citation: Doll, K.M., Sharma, B. 2011. Emulsification of chemically modified vegetable oils for lubricant use. Journal of Surfactants and Detergents. 14:131-138.

Interpretive Summary: We have successfully formed stable emulsions of chemically modified soybean oil in order to formulate a cheap and effective lubrication fluid. Emulsion based lubricants are popular in industries, such as metal rolling, because they are predominately water and, therefore, cost effective. However, getting the lubricating oil and the water to form an effective combination requires emulsifiers to help keep the mixture from forming two separate layers. Most current metalworking emulsions use petroleum based oil for which there are many available emulsifiers and additive formulations. However, when a vegetable oil is used, instead of the petroleum based oil, these additive packages can be ineffective. This report is the first to stabilize epoxidized soybean oil and epoxidized ethyl-hexyl soyate, two oils shown to be highly effective lubricants. In fact, even using a concentration of only 1% oil in water, our formulations can reduce friction to a point comparable to a 100% oil fluid. This an important step in the formulation of vegetable oil based emulsion lubricants which will benefit lubricant users, such as metal rolling plants, as well as vegetable oil producers and the overall environment.

Technical Abstract: Several previously uncharacterized emulsions were studied in this paper, including those made form epoxidized vegetable oils. A series of different surfactants were studied in order to obtain emulsions suitable for lubrication applications. The epoxidized oils were found to form stable emulsions in several different surfactant systems, whereas only Brij® 30 and a modified Surfonic® MES 530 were able to stabilize ordinary soybean oil for one week under our test conditions. Overall, the best surfactants were those with an HLB value slightly above nine. The droplet size of emulsions made with surfactants formed submicron droplets whereas only droplets of larger diameter were obtained when surfactants were not added. Finally, a lubrication study was performed showing that even a 1% emulsion of the vegetable oils used in this study can reduce friction nearly as well as using the base oil alone.

Last Modified: 09/19/2017
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