In this study, the tribological behavior of an ammonium-based protic ionic liquid (PIL) as an additive in a base mineral oil (MO) is investigated on a steel-steel contact at room temperature and 100 °C. Tri-[bis(2-hydroxyethylammonium)] citrate (DCi) was synthesized in a simple and low-cost way, and the ionic structure of DCi was confirmed by proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR). The stability measurement of 1 wt% DCi to a MO was investigated, and the lubricating ability and anti-wear properties of DCi as an additive in MO were also examined using a custom-designed reciprocating ball-on-flat tribometer. Optical microscope and profilometry were used to obtain the worn morphology of the steel disks. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) were carried out to investigate the wear mechanism and to analyze the surface interactions between the rubbing components. When 1 wt% DCi is added into the base MO, frictional performance is improved at both temperatures studied with a friction reduction of 29.0% and 35.5%, respectively. Moreover, the addition of 1 wt% DCi to MO reduced the wear volume 59.4% compared to the use of MO. An oxygen-richened tribolayer is confirmed by EDS on the disk surface when DCi was used as additive under 100 °C.


Tsinghua University Press