Grease Formulating 101

    Grease makes the world go round, but how does it work? Afton Chemical is an industry leading supplier in performance additive and component technology for manufacturing greases.  They have answered some of the industry’s most asked questions about grease and their technical formulation. Learn how their HiTEC® Products can help make a full suite of economic or premium grade greases below.  View the Afton Grease Additives & Components►

What is a Grease? 


Grease is used in many facets of everyday life, but what is used to make it?  Performance greases can vary drastically, with complex combinations of additives and various base oils, but at the heart of it grease can be broken down into three basic components — a Base Oil, a Thickener and Performance Additives.
 

What Does Grease Do, and Why Use a Grease? 


There are many different types of lubricant technology available, but when should you use a grease vs. an oil? Greases provide a unique combination of properties including:
  • Reducing friction & wear between moving parts
  • Protecting surfaces from rust & corrosion
  • Repels & prevents moisture ingression
  • Maintains structural consistency or “stay-in-place” performance
  • Provides a seal to prevents oil leakage or contamination from the environment
  • Protects & lubricates over a wide range of operating temperatures & speeds

What type of Base Oils are Used & How do they Affect Performance?


Base oil selection for a grease is integral to the final performance.Base oils alter the consistency of the grease and are the carrier for any performance additives desired in formulation.The two largest factors to base oil selection are chemistry and viscosity. The end application will determine the type of base oil & the correct amount to use.
 
The viscosity of the base oil will not have a large impact on the final consistency of the finished grease.The amount of base oil used however, can alter the “softness” of the finished lubricant.
 

What type of Thickeners are Used in Grease?


There are two main categories of thickeners for grease formulation: Soap Thickeners and Non-soap Thickeners.A brief breakdown on type of thickeners and their benefits is listed below as a reference.
    Soap Thickener
    Benefit
    Aluminum (Al-Complex)Great Multipurpose Performance Relative to Cost
    Calcium (Ca-Complex)Older Technology, Economic-tier Performance at Low Cost
    Calcium Sulfonate
    (Ca-Sulfonate Complex)
    Excellent Performance Properties, Higher Cost
    Lithium (Li-Complex)Good Water Resistance & Oxidative Stability
    Sodium/Barium (Na/Ba-Complex)Older Technology, Low Cost and Economic-Tier Performance
    Non-Soap Thickener
    Benefit
    PolyureaGood Oxidative Stablility and "fill-for-life" Sealed Lubricant Applications
    ClayGood High Temperature Stability (No Dropping Point)
    Silicon, Silica, Pigments & Carbon BlackSpecialized for Niche Applications & Premium Markets

What types of Grease Additives are there — how do they work? 


There are countless additive technologies in the market that allow for formulating economic to premium grade performance greases.These additives can be broken down into soluble and solid additives and enhance specific properties that are desired in the final grease formula.
    Additive Type
    Values & Benefits in Grease
    Typical Treat Rate
    --
    EP Agent 
    (Extreme Pressure)
    Engineered to prevent surface damage caused by scuffing, metal contact and shock loads.  Provides protection at high loads & low speeds.0.1 — 5.0%View the Afton EP Additives
    AW
    (Antiwear)
    Engineered to prevent surface damage caused by scuffing, metal contact and shock loads.  Provides protection at low loads & high speeds.0.5 — 10.0%View the Afton AW Additives
    CI
    (Corrosion Inhibitors)
    Prevents corrosion on ferrous metals by inhibiting electrolytic reaction of water & oxygen on surface.0.1 — 5.0%View Afton CI Additives 
    Metal DeactivatorsPrevents Yellow Metal Corrosion & Damage0.05 — 1.0%View the Afton Metal Deactivator Additives
    AO
    (Antioxidants)
    Prevents Oxidation & Lubricant Degradation0.3 — 1.0%View the Afton AO Additives
    Friction ModifiersControl friction and improve equipment efficiency and reduce micro-pitting & stick-slip occurrences.0.1 — 5.0%View the Afton Friction Modifier Additives 

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