Harnessing The Protective Power
of Anti-Wear Additives

Base oils can’t do it alone. Base oils serve as the foundation of all lubricants used in automotive products, including engine oils, transmission and gear lubricants, and greases. But base oils need the help of additives to maintain the proper viscosity for lubrication, improve performance, prevent contamination, avoid chemical breakdown, and protect engine parts.

The properties of base oil determine how they are used. It’s the additive technology that makes all the difference, reacting with the base oil in three possible ways:

  • Enhance existing base oil properties
    Examples: corrosion inhibitors, demulsifying agents, antifoam agents, and antioxidants
  • Suppress unwanted base oil properties
    Examples: Viscosity index (VI) improvers and pour-point depressants
  • Create new base oil properties
    Examples: Extra pressure (EP) additives, metal deactivators, tackiness agents, and detergents

Depending on the application, up to 30% of formulated oil volume typically consists of additives. How do you know which additive is best for your application? This blog delves into one anti-wear additives (AW additives), helping you understand their protective power.

What Are Anti-Wear Additives?

Anti-wear additives are tribochemical substances that chemically react with a metal surface to provide a sacrificial film that shields the metal. This chemical reaction activates at moderate to high temperatures of 150-230 degrees Fahrenheit during mixed-film or boundary-film lubrication. As a result, the film shears rather than the surface metal, minimizing wear and providing strong protection from metal-to-metal contact, corrosive acids, and oxidation of the base oil.
Beware of additives competing for the same space on a metal surface. Anti-wear additives may cause corrosion inhibitor additives to be less effective, resulting in more corrosion-related problems.
Pointing Fillmore
Anti-wear additives are most commonly added to hydraulic oil, engine oil, and gearboxes. Anti-wear additive labels typically include the AW classification, followed by the viscosity. For example, hydraulic oil with an anti-wear additive will be displayed as AW46.

What Are The Types of Anti-Wear Additives?

All anti-wear additives reduce abrasive tool wear and make the machining process easier. There are several widely-used AW additives.
Using anti-wear additives increases exposure potential and possible health effects. Make sure to follow all material safety data sheets to handle handle these products properly.
ZDDP provides exceptional anti-wear protection against engine oil breakdown and corrosion. In addition, ZDDP’s antioxidant properties reduce sludge and soot build-up on pistons and engine components and keep engines running longer and more smoothly.
Like ZDDP, Sulfur is a common anti-wear additive in hydraulic fluids and is used for its oxidative properties and lower sludge-forming tendencies. However, sulfur anti-wear additives should not be used with copper components due to their potentially corrosive effect.
TCP is used as an anti-wear additive for high-temperature applications, such as in turbine engines, aviation lubricants, and hydraulic fluids. While its anti-wear properties are well proven, its use is currently under scrutiny due to potential toxic health effects, including aerotoxic syndrome.
Anti-wear additives are vital for proper lubrication, providing unmatched wear and friction protection and prolonging machine performance. At Pack Logix, our expertise in additives can help you keep your systems running smoothly. Reach out to learn all the ways we can assist your business.


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