Synthetic Lubricants Derived from Plastic Waste and their Tribological Performance Academic Article uri icon


  • The energy efficiency, mechanical durability, and environmental compatibility of all moving machine components rely heavily on advanced lubricants for smooth and safe operation. Herein an alternative family of high-quality liquid (HQL) lubricants was derived by the catalytic conversion of pre- and post-consumer polyolefin waste. The plastic-derived lubricants performed comparably to synthetic base oils such as polyalphaolefins (PAOs), both with a wear scar volume (WSV) of 7.5×10-5  mm-3 . HQLs also performed superior to petroleum-based lubricants such as Group III mineral oil with a WSV of 1.7×10-4  mm-3 , showcasing a 44 % reduction in wear. Furthermore, a synergistic reduction in friction and wear was observed when combining the upcycled plastic lubricant with synthetic oils. Life cycle and techno-economic analyses also showed this process to be energetically efficient and economically feasible. This novel technology offers a cost-effective opportunity to reduce the harmful environmental impact of plastic waste on our planet and to save energy through reduction of friction and wear-related degradations in transportation applications akin to synthetic oils.

author list (cited authors)

  • Hackler, R. A., Vyavhare, K., Kennedy, R. M., Celik, G., Kanbur, U., Griffin, P. J., ... Delferro, M.

publication date

  • January 1, 2019 11:11 AM