Importance Of Additives In Lubricant

Additives in lubricants are essential to perform the functions they do. These additives are blended into the base oil to make the finished product. Also, they come to improve the chemical, anti-friction, and physical properties. They are very complex. However, it can be used in different packages to get several effects from a lubricant.

Besides this, it can increase the lubricant’s performance and extend the equipment’s life. Nevertheless, lubricant types and specific operating conditions determine various additive compositions and amounts. For example, there are engine oil, gear oil, hydraulic oil, cutting fluid, compressor oil, etc.

Additives In Lubricant

Important Information Of Additive In Lubricant:

An additive is a chemical element. It is a mixture used at a special rate, usually from 1-35 %, to offer one or more functions to the liquid. Ideally, additives are versatile. Additives are soluble in water, mineral oil, or sometimes both. Second, additions offer or help with many functions, such as:

  • boundary lubricity
  • antifoam additives and defoamers
  • emulsification
  • extreme pressure (EP)
  • antimicrobial pesticide
  • antimisting
  • inhibiting corrosion
  • boosting reserve alkaline

With such diverse effects, chemists often search for versatile additives. And also, these additives are compatible with different chemicals in a formulation.

Types Of Oil Additives:

Oil additives are essential for lubrication and prolonged motor oil use in unique internal burning engines. The oil will become polluted, leak, and break down without these. Moreover, without additives, oils cannot adequately protect your engine parts at all weather temperatures.

Additives are crucial for the oils used inside gearboxes, bearings, and automatic transmissions. Among essential additives are those used for viscosity and lubricity, and more. Here below, we have included the types of additives. Have a look.

  1. Friction modifiers
  2. Anti-wear additives
  3. Extreme pressure (EP) additives
  4. Rust and corrosion inhibitors
  5. Antioxidants
  6. Detergents
  7. Dispersants
  8. Pour point depressants
  9. Viscosity index improvers
  10. Antifoaming agents

Friction Modifiers

Friction modifiers decrease the friction coefficient, resulting in lower fuel consumption.

Most friction modifiers have molecular platelets (layers) in their crystalline structure. Additionally, they can easily slide over each other.

Below solid lubricants are applied as friction modifiers.

  • Graphite
  • Molybdenum disulfide
  • Boron nitride (BN)
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
  • Tungsten disulfide (WS2)

Anti-wear Additives

When the oil film breaks down, these additives resist direct metal-to-metal contact between engine parts. Using anti-wear additives result-in longer engine life. It is the most important additive for the lubricants industry, so the anti-wear additives market is also larger than others.

The anti-wear additives mechanism:

The additive reacts with the surface metal and forms a film, which can slide above the traction surface.

Extreme Pressure Additives

Extreme pressure (EP) joints prevent seizure conditions under high load. The EP additives mechanism is the same as anti-wear additives: on the surface, its substance forms a coating. Usually, this coating protects the part from direct contact with other surface parts, reducing wear and scoring.

Rust And Corrosion Inhibitors

Rust and corrosion inhibitors make an obstacle film on the surface, decreasing the corrosion rate. Inhibitors adsorb to the metal surface to make a film. Therefore, it protects the part from attack by oxygen and water. Furthermore, it can protect the region from other chemically active substances.

The following components are utilized as rust and corrosion inhibitors:

  • Alkaline compounds
  • Organic acids
  • Esters
  • Amino-acid derivatives


Mineral oil reacts with oxygen in the air to form organic acids. Oxidation reaction products increase oil viscosity, sludge and varnish formation, and more. Antioxidants obstacles to the oxidation process of oil. Many lubricants have antioxidants.


Detergent additives in lubricating oils provide deposits and sludge-free metal parts. Detergents neutralize powerful acids which are present in lubricants.

Additionally, it decreases the neutralization of products from metal surfaces. Detergents create a film on part surfaces that prevent sludge and varnish build-up at high temperatures. Detergents are suitable to use in engine oil.

Phenolates, alkaline-earth elements, sulphonates, and phosphonates of alkaline are used as detergents in lubricants.

Viscosity Index Improvers

Oils viscosity reduces sharply at high temperatures. Low-viscosity oil reduces the lubricating ability. Correspondingly, Viscosity index improvers keep the consistency at an average level. In addition, it also offers a stable oil film even at elevated temperatures. These additives are suitable for multigrade oils. It’s because its viscosity is specified at low and high temperatures.

Antifoaming Agents

Aeration of the lubricating oil happening in particular applications can cause air bubbles to make in oil. Foaming increases oil oxidation and reduces the lubrication effect that causes oil starvation.

Additives In Motor Oil:

Today’s motor oil comes with two essential ingredients: additives and base oil. But this was not before. In the 1930s, someone added wax modifiers to the base oil to solve the wax residue problem after refining methods.

Thus started, adding additives to motor oils to enhance the performance of base oils. These additives improve the lubricant by performing two important works: reducing destructive processes and improving the essential properties of the base oil.

Job Description Of Additives In Motor Oil:

There are three essential functions of motor oil:

  • Protect metal surfaces
  • Extend the lubricant’s application range
  • Increase lubricant life

For additive selection, extra considerations include simple handling by formulations, toxicity, and storage stability. Yes, the additive odor is a serious consideration.

Lubricant Additives Market:

The lubricant or oil additive market is divided by function, metal working fluids, other lubricant types, and geography. The report provides market size and forecasts for the earlier segments’ revenue (USD million).

The lubricant additives market size was $18.3 billion in 2020 and is estimated to reach $31.3 billion by 2030. Nevertheless, it’s growing at a CAGR of 3.7% between 2021 and 2030.

Lubricant additives manufacturers: There are some major Players worldwide who are lubricant additives manufacturers like Chevron Oronite, Lubrizol Corp., BASF SE, LANXESS, etc.

Final Word:

Lubricant additive technology is a complex business as it involves a variety of chemistries. Often, one additive can interact unfavorably with another additive. The reason is that they both compete for a similar area on the substrate surface.

Such interactions can negate the desirable properties of additives. The additive content of the lubricating oil ranges from only a few parts per million to a few percentage points. Additives can be classified depending on the function they develop.

Well, this is the bread guide of additives in the lubricant. We hope you can now know something about this additive. To learn more information about this topic, please, follow our blog. Thank you.


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I am Engr. Z Eusuf Lubricant Specialist, Mechanical Engineer & has been working with engine lubricants for a long time and knows what makes them work best. I can help you find the right oil for your needs, and I have tips on how to keep your engine running at its best.

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