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Title: Temperature-Dependent Conformations of Model Viscosity Index Improvers

Lubricants are comprised of base oils and additives where additives are chemicals that are deliberately added to the oil to enhance properties and inhibit degradation of the base oils. Viscosity index (VI) improvers are an important class of additives that reduce the decline of fluid viscosity with temperature [1], enabling optimum lubricant performance over a wider range of operating temperatures. These additives are typically high molecular weight polymers, such as, but not limited to, polyisobutylenes, olefin copolymer, and polyalkylmethacrylates, that are added in concentrations of 2-5% (w/w). Appropriate polymers, when dissolved in base oil, expand from a coiled to an uncoiled state with increasing temperature [2]. The ability of VI additives to increase their molar volume and improve the temperature-viscosity dependence of lubricants suggests there is a strong relationship between molecular structure and additive functionality [3]. In this work, we aim to quantify the changes in polymer size with temperature for four polyisobutylene (PIB) based molecular structures at the nano-scale using molecular simulation tools. As expected, the results show that the polymers adopt more conformations at higher temperatures, and there is a clear indication that the expandability of a polymer is strongly influenced by molecular structure.
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Tribology and Lubrication Technology, 71(5):30-31
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
lubricants, base oils, viscosity