Thermo-Activated Lubricant Additives for Improving Engine Efficiency and Fuel Economy

Controlled Release Friction Reduction over Time

Invention Summary:

Friction modifiers (FMs) have been extensively studied as lubricant additives that could improve lubricity of base oil friction profiles to enhance fuel economy by the petrochemical and automobile industries. There are two classes of FMs, the ash FM (organo-molybdenum molecules) and ashless FM (sulfur-free organic molecules).  The ashless modifiers such as fatty acid esters have the added advantage of being more environmentally friendly. However, current fatty acid molecules degrade too quickly and result in reduced efficacy over time.

Rutgers researchers have incorporated fatty acids into thermocleavable systems to produce di-tert-butylT18 which exhibits: (1) step-wise thermal degradation into friction modifying intermediates, (2) controlled release degradation at 200˚C or higher (the relevant temperature in car engine pistons), and (3) solubility in base oil.

The system’s friction modifying capabilities have been demonstrated in high frequency reciprocating rig (HFFR) analyses and have shown a superior friction coefficient compared to most commercially available additives.

The step-wise thermal degradation into a T18 intermediate and stearic acid, both having friction modifying capabilities, is confirmed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Thus, these novel FMs could increase engine efficiency, reduce fuel consumption, and effectively reduce vehicle emissions.

Market Applications:

  • Lubricant additive
  • Automotive, marine, aviation and industrial engines       


  • Ashless additive with reduced emission
  • Sustained friction reduction at temperature of car engine pistons
  • High solubility in base oil
  • Step-wise thermo-induced degradation
  • Easy to synthesize and formulate

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

Patent pending and available for non-exclusive licensing.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Fred Banti
Associate Director, Life Sciences
Rutgers University
Chemical and petrochemical industry