Zinc oxide in engine oil keeps an engine running smoothly

When it comes to a car engine, reliability at all times is paramount, which is precisely why efficient engine oil with an optimised formula is indispensable. Modern engine oils consist of various base oils or mixtures of base oils, depending on type and performance. They also contain additives such as zinc dithiophosphate, a precursor of zinc oxide. Engine oils are used to protect the engine from corrosion, eliminate combustion residue and absorb micro-fine abraded metal particles to prevent the formation of deposits in the engine.

Zinc dithiophosphate (ZDDP) is the most popular tried and tested additive for high performance engine and gear oils.  Indeed, it has an antioxidant action: oxidation is a major issue with many materials and motor oil is no exception. It oxidises especially when exposed to high temperatures and in contact with oxygen. This process is facilitated by the presence of small metal particles resulting from surface abrasion between the piston and the cylinder liner. ZDDP improves corrosion protection, thus greatly increasing oil service life, allowing longer intervals between oil changes and consequently protecting natural resources.

ZDDP is also known as an extreme pressure and anti-wear agent. It creates an extremely thin sacrificial film on metal surfaces subject to abrasion, such as pistons, valve trains and gearwheels. This film is normally solid, but under increased pressure and high temperatures - when the engine is running - it develops lubricity, thereby preventing excessive material wear. This protection is extremely important in cold weather and when the engine is started.

The challenges of the future are: ZDDP performs more than just one task in the motor oil - even a very small fraction added delivers optimum protection in high-performance engine oils. This state-of-the-art technology is subject to ongoing development and refinement to ensure that this is also the case in the future. For example, the mode of action of ZDDP is enhanced by a specific synthesis of zinc oxide. This is the only way we can satisfy the current demands of today’s car manufacturers in terms of what they expect from an engine oil and the associated higher standards with respect to better quality, a reduction in exhaust fumes and consumption and improved wear resistance.

In collaboration with:

Sabina Grund (Engineer)
ZINC INITIATIVE in the WirtschaftsVereinigung Metalle [Metal Trade Association]

Am Bonneshof 5
40474 Düsseldorf

Tel.: 0211 47 96 166
Fax: 0211 47 96 25 166


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