Shape Changing Lubricants

Robert Ian Taylor
Shell Global Solutions
Cheshire, UK

Shell Global Solutions UK is conducting research to optimize lubricants for the fuel economy. A problem exists in creating a balance between energy efficient lubricants that decrease friction, and the higher wear created by the thinner oil film in the lower friction lubricant. There are also many points of contact with extremely high pressure, which increases the viscosity of the lubricant, causing the metal surface to deform elastically thus promoting lubrication.

Shell uses COMSOL Multiphysics to solve the complex lubrication problems. COMSOL allows Shell to develop models without using the existing proprietary code, simplifying maintenance and modification of models.

Schematic of multiphysics approach to solving lubrication problems. The Reynolds equation is solved on the line, or surface. The calculated pressure distribution is then used to calculate elastic deformations and this process is repeated until convergence is obtained.