Structure and Formation of Soot Particles from Tribofilm Decomposition Under Real Engine Conditions

09 September 2020, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Lubrication of an internal combustion engine is critical for unwanted energy and material losses. Zinc dialkyldithiophosphate (ZDDP) is a commonly used anti-wear additive that forms by in situ decomposition a protecting interface between sliding surfaces. The interface consists of the tribofilm on both surfaces and oil in the contact. Soot particles from a petrol engine and gas engine were analyzed using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques: electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). These techniques revealed that the end-products in soot contain 3-5 nm ZnO-based particles with additions of phosphorus and sulfur, originating from the ZDDP anti-wear additive. Our results unravel the tribofilm decomposition under real field conditions and hint toward potentially unidentified hazards with respect to ZDDP-containing lubricants.


tribologic properties
energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS)
electron energy loss spectroscopy studies
Green Chemistry


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