Chemical modification of vegetable oils for lubricant applications

Brajendra K. Sharma, Atanu Adhvaryu, Zengshe Liu, Sevim Z. Erhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Owing to the unfavorable impact on the environment of mineral oil-based lubricants, there has been a steady increase in the demand for biodegradable, environment-friendly lubricants. However, development of a biodegradable base fluid that could replace or partially substitute conventional mineral oil is a big challenge. Vegetable oils are recognized as rapidly biodegradable and are thus promising candidates as base fluids in environment-friendly lubricants. Vegetable oils have excellent lubricity, but poor oxidation and low-temperature stability. This paper presents a series of structural modifications of vegetable oils using anhydrides of different chain lengths. The reaction was monitored and products were confirmed by NMR, FTIR, gel permeation chromatography, and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Experimental conditions were optimized for research quantity and for laboratory scale-up (up to 4 lb = 1.8 kg). The thermo-oxidation stability of these new lubricant base fluids was tested using pressure differential scanning calorimetry and TGA. The chemically modified base fluids exhibit superior oxidation stability in comparison with unmodified vegetable oils. These base fluids in combination with suitable additives exhibit equivalent oxidation stability compared with mineral oil-based formulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-136
Number of pages8
JournalJAOCS, Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemically modified vegetable oils
  • Diester triacylglycerol
  • Dihydroxy
  • Epoxidized soybean oil
  • Oxidation
  • Pour point
  • Vegetable oils

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Organic Chemistry


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