By Sunil Bhardwaj

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1. To keep moving parts apart: A thin layer of lubricant keeps apart the moving parts in a system thereby reducing friction, surface damage, reduces heat generation, operating noise and vibrations. The thin layer thus acts as a physical barrier between the moving parts. This is termed as hydrodynamic lubrication.

2. To reduce friction: The lubricant-to-surface friction is much less than surface to surface friction in a system. Thus lubricant reduces the system friction. Reduced friction results in reduced heat generation and reduced formation of wear particles which in turn will results in improved efficiency. Sometimes lubricants may contain additives known as friction modifiers which chemically bind to metal surfaces to reduce surface friction.

3. To protect against wear: It is known that lubricants prevent wear by keeping the moving parts apart. Lubricants may also contain anti-wear or extreme pressure additives to enhance their performance against wear and fatigue.

4. To transfer heat: Gas and liquid lubricants can both transfer heat, but liquid lubricants are much more effective since they have high specific heat capacity. The liquid lubricant is constantly circulated to and from the cooler parts of the system. And this circulating flow determines the amount of heat that is carried away in any given moment. High flow systems can carry away a lot of heat and offer advantages of reducing the thermal stress on the lubricants. Solid lubricants such as greases and pastes are nor effective for heat transfer.

5. To carry away contaminants and debris: Lubricants have the capacity of carrying away internally generated debris and external contaminants that get introduced into the system to a filter system from where they can be removed later. Sometimes lubricants may contain detergent and dispersant additives to assist in debris and contaminant transport to the filters.

6. To prevent corrosion: Lubricants sometimes contain additives that form chemical bonds with surfaces to prevent corrosion and rust.

7. To seal gasses: Lubricants when present in the space between moving parts, seal that space through the capillary force. This effect is known to seal pistons and shafts.

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