Campus Units

Chemistry, Ames Laboratory

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Publication Version

Accepted Manuscript

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The energy efficiency, mechanical durability, and environmental compatibility of all moving machine components rely heavily on advanced lubricants for smooth and safe operation. Herein we discovered and tested an alternative family of high-quality liquid (HQL) lubricants derived by the catalytic conversion of pre- and post-consumer polyolefin waste. The plastic-derived lubricants performed comparably to synthetic base oils such as polyalphaolefins (PAOs), both with a wear scar volume (WSV) of 7.5 x 10 -5 . HQLs also performing superior to petroleum-based lubricants such as Group III mineral oil with a WSV of 1.7 x 10 -4 , showcasing a 44% reduction in wear. Furthermore, a synergistic reduction in friction and wear was observed when combining the upcycled plastic lubricant with synthetic oils. Life cycle (LCA) and techno-economic (TEA) analyses also showed this process to be energetically efficient and economically feasible. This novel technology offers a cost-effective opportunity to reduce the harmful environmental impact of plastic waste on our planet and to save energy through reduction of friction and wear-related degradations in transportation applications akin to synthetic oils.


This is the peer-reviewed version of the following article: Hackler, Ryan, Kimaya Vyavhare, Robert Kennedy, Gokhan Celik, Uddhav Kanbur, Philip Griffin, Aaron Sadow et al. "Synthetic Lubricants Derived from Plastic Waste and their Tribological Performance." ChemSusChem (2021), which has been published in final form at DOI: 10.1002/cssc.202100912. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

Wiley-VCH GmbH



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Available for download on Thursday, May 26, 2022

Published Version