Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory proved that a certain class of ionic liquids, when mixed with commercially available oils, can make gears run more efficiently with less noise and better durability. ORNL’s team tested three different oil-soluble ionic liquids on steel under various temperatures, loads and speeds. They found that adding a small percentage of a phosphonium-phosphate ionic liquid into a gear oil can effectively reduce friction, wear loss, cracking, surface damage and associated vibration noises. “The current trend in lubrication is chasing better fuel economy by using less viscous lubricants,” ORNL’s Jun Qu said. “This ionic liquid resulted in oils that perform well with less viscosity, generating a thicker, smoother and more uniform film for superior surface protection.” Results were published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.