Lubricant bench tests are small-scale tests examining a specific aspect of a lubricant’s performance. Faster and cheaper than full-scale tests, they can aid the research and development process. Additive component and package developers, lubricant marketers and original equipment manufacturers all use bench tests. This is the first of two articles and explores the use of bench tests in specifications, their relationship to “real world” performance and whether they can unnecessarily constrain the chemistry options for lubricant formulators.
Lubricant Bench Tests
Lubricant bench tests take many forms. They usually focus on a specific performance area of the lubricant, like oxidation, corrosion, rust, aeration, shear stability, filterability, friction or seal compatibility. They accelerate the conditions causing the performance characteristic and can be cheaply and quickly employed to gain mechanistic insights and screen new additives and/or formulations. More expensive and lengthier rig, engine and field tests can then be run on pre-screened candidates, which potentially have the best performance (Figure 1).