Differences between oils, lubricants, and greases

Differences between oils, lubricants, and greases

In general, lubricating oil is a substance that reduces friction when placed between two surfaces with relative motion.  There are lubricants with different grades and viscosities, although their functions have a lot of similarities as they:

  • Reduce friction between two surfaces in motion.
  • Protect mechanical components from wear and corrosion.
  • Clean and cool.
  • Act as a sealant between the segments/pistons and jackets in order to prevent gas leaks from occurring inside the combustion chamber.

What is the difference between oil and lubricant? A lubricant can be a fluid, solid, or semi-solid. Oil refers to a liquid lubricant with an oil base and additives. This is the best known type of lubricant.

A grease is a semi-fluid or semi-solid lubricant that consists of a mixture of a thickening agent with a liquid lubricant and other elements (additives), that give each grease its special properties

The structure of grease allows the lubricant to remain in a solid state until the shear force between surfaces reaches a certain level, and the grease begins to flow and becomes a mobile compound. Once the shear force is reduced, the grease regains its initial properties.

When is grease used? Grease is used when it is not practical or convenient to use a lubricating fluid: in open bearings; machinery operating intermittently; isolated systems; machinery operating under extreme conditions, such as high temperatures and pressures; shock loads or heavy loads at low speed; or when grease must also be used as a sealant to prevent the passage of impurities

What are the advantages of using grease?

Due to its consistency it remains at the lubrication point, so surfaces remain protected against rust and corrosion, even when systems are shut down. On the other hand, greases act as a sealant, preventing leaks in the system and impurities from entering the lubrication point, absorbing external contamination, noise, and vibrations. In addition, greases have the ability to absorb larger quantities of water without affecting their performance and offer the possibility of accommodating solid additives in their structure, which are very effective for applications with extreme loads.

However, they have some disadvantages compared to lubricating fluids, namely that they do not dissipate heat as effectively. For this reason, its use is not recommended when the rotation speed is very high.

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