Product News: Engine parts slip and slide with graphene-based lube

Graphene Flagship scientists launch first graphene-based lubricant for motor engines in Europe

06 Jul 2021


Researchers at Graphene Flagship partner company, Graphene-XT, Italy, have developed a new lubricating oil additive for diesel and petrol engines in cars or motorcycles. Their studies show that graphene makes the oil more stable, confirmed by live high-intensity tests in the engine of a motocross motorcycle.

Lubricating oils for engines are made up of lots of different chemical compounds, both natural and synthetic. They also contain several additives, like a viscosity modifier, anti-corrosion agents, detergent, a friction modifier, which can improve their properties. This includes making them more stable at higher temperatures or for longer periods of time.

Graphene-XT has developed new oil formulations using graphene, producing a graphene-enabled lubricating additive that keeps the engine safer for longer. Graphene acts as a strong lubricant due to its layered structure, which allows the atom-thin layers of carbon to easily slip and slide against each other with little friction. 

By introducing graphene into a lubricating oil, Graphene-XT found that both its performance and stability improved, resulting in more compression and less wear and tear in the engine parts of both cars and motorcycles.

“The addition of graphene improves the oil’s tribological properties, making it more suitable for high-pressure, high-stress environments,” explained Simone Ligi, CEO of Graphene-XT. “But the benefits of graphene do not stop there. Graphene has good heat transfer properties, essential to make lubricants safer at higher temperatures. All of these effects combined together reduce engine noise and fuel consumption.”

To further prove the effectiveness of their graphene-based lubricant, Graphene Flagship researchers at Graphene-XT added their graphene lube to a motocross engine. A biker then took the motorcycle for a spin on a motocross circuit and reported back. His feedback was the same as that from the lab, graphene-enhanced oil produced less noise and better performance. 

“The motocross engine is under a lot of stress,” continued Ligi. “It needs a lot of maintenance and sometimes requires an oil change as frequently as every three hours. This was a hard test for graphene, but it clearly shows our product works. The additive is under evaluation for different users, such as cars and light trucks, for long-term performance evaluation.” 

“It is great to see that with the support of the Graphene Flagship, the new product’s development has been accelerated up to the point of product release,” added Alex Jouvray, Graphene Flagship Work Package Leader for Production. This is the aim of the Production Work Package. The team at Graphene-XT has done an excellent job in identifying a gap in the market and developing a new product to meet this market.” 

Andrea C. Ferrari, Science and Technology Officer of the Graphene Flagship and Chair of its Management Panel, adds: “It is a pleasure to see how the Graphene Flagship’s Technology and Innovation Roadmap is resulting in viable new companies. We are at the dawn of the commercialization phase of more and more graphene products.  Yet again, Europe, thanks to the Graphene Flagship, has acquired a leadership role in a new graphene-enabled technology.”

For more of the latest science news, straight to your inbox, become a member of SelectScience for free today>>