Lubricants are used to extend the working life of engine components and provide better fuel economy. They consist of a base oil, which makes up the bulk of the lubricant, and additives. The additives are present to improve certain physical and chemical properties of the oil. Over time, degradation of the oil causes a reduction in its performance.
Furthermore, engine oil is susceptible to contamination also causing detrimental effects on performance. The most common contaminants in engine oil are soot, water and fuel. At present, there is no way to stop oil degradation causing the need to change the engine oil.
Being able to monitor the condition of the oil, as well as being able to reclaim the function of the oil in situ, would allow extended life of the engine oil along with cleaner engines.
The overall aim of the project is to review the engine oil degradation process, along with the effects of common engine oil contaminants on tribological performance in order to reclaim the function of the oil by filtration and additive replenishment.