Having studied Chemistry at the University of York I undertook a year in industry at a pharmaceutical company. This devloped an interest in the power of chemistry to shape technology. I’ve always had an interest in machinery and so tribology (the study of friction, lubrication and wear) is an exciting area of research for delivering chemistry that improves the lives of consumers, saving both money and energy through maintenance reduction, increased component lifetimes and increases in efficiency.
My work is centred upon automotive engine oil lubricant chemistry. In order to make engines more efficient, the viscosity of engine oil lubricant has been reduced in recent years. This reduction in viscosity has led to more surface contact in engines, which in turn increases the demand upon the chemical additive package formulated into automotive lubricants. One class of chemicals in the additive package are known as friction modifiers, these species reduce friction in those parts of the engine where steel-on-steel contact cannot be avoided (such as the piston and cylinder liner). My research focusses upon molybdenum friction modifier breakdown to form molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). The molybdenum disulfde derived from these additives is an important solid lubricant in automotive engines. The issue however is that these additives are sulfur-containing and this sulfur can poison catalytic converters, leading to increased emissions. In order to alleviate this, it is important for lubricant formulators to understand the mechanisms of molybdenum disulfide formation so that lubricant sulfur content can be reduced.
- MChem (with a year in industry) University of York