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    Sunway University Researchers Taking Nanotech One Step Further

    Lubricants are key for engines and machines to perform efficiently and these are crucial to people’s daily lives. Lubricants help mitigate friction and overheating which causes energy losses and damage.

    Professor Mohammad Khalid and Dr Abdul Khaliq Rasheed of the Graphene and Advanced 2D Materials Research Group (GAMRG) at Sunway University have discovered and produced the technology to improve automotive and industrial lubricants. Both scientists who joined Sunway University in 2017 developed the graphene nanolubricant containing millions of the world’s thinnest, strongest, lightest, hardest and most conducting nanosheets.

    “Wear of engines and machinery continues to be a global concern costing billions annually. Traditional lubricants which use chemical additives have reached the threshold limit in-terms of efficiency. To meet the modern engineering lubrication challenges which primarily deal with nanoscale-friction and thermal performance, we took up nanomaterials to find a solution. Having successfully exploited metallic, metal oxides, graphene and other 2-dimensional materials for heat transfer applications since 2007, our current focus is on heat transfer fluids which also include nanolubricants,” said Professor Khalid.

    This year, they aim to commercialise their graphene based nanolubricant ‘Infinoil’ which can reduce friction and wear, improving engine efficiency in automotive and industrial applications. Graphene, derived from a natural source is a single, one atom thick layer of carbon atoms. According to Professor Khalid, the possibility to extract out an atomic sheet is only made possible in the last decade.

    ‘Infinoil’ nanolubricants reduce wear and remove heat from the engine and machine components through a culmination of several mechanisms at nano-scale. Last year in November, ‘Infinoil’ was tested at the F1 circuit in Sepang, Malaysia. The vehicle it was tested on ran for a 24- hour race, displaying outstanding endurance. ‘Infinoil’ was found to resist degradation better than other lubricants used during the race. “Racing requires high performance lubricants that can resist extreme conditions. When we explained the technology of our product, the team was excited to test the same in pre-race trials and based on the excellent performance during trials, the team decided to go with our product for the actual race,” explained Dr Rasheed.

    Muhammad Danial Halim, team manager of MRF D Garage commented, “The engine nanolubricant outperformed our competitors’ as we didn’t have to top-up the engine oil during the 24-hour run while some racers had to top-up their engine oil two to three times. Our engine’s oil pressure, as well as its temperature, was maintained.”

    ‘Infinoil’ according to Dr Rasheed, “is advanced technology at an affordable price”. The nanolubricant – Malaysia’s first graphene technology, meets American Petroleum Institute (API), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. The advantages of the nanolubricant include lower wear and friction; higher heat transfer capacity; lower oil volatility; which would ultimately result in lower fuel consumption.

    Professor Khalid, Head of GAMRG has over 12 years of experience while Dr Rasheed, a research fellow has more than 10 years of experience in nanotechnology. The group’s main research activities are to develop Graphene and 2D materials technologies, and apply them in different heat transfer applications (such as lubricants, coolants and composites). “Besides research, we offer consultancy to those in the automotive industry and our activities contribute to the National Graphene Action Plan 2020”, said Professor Khalid.

    At the moment the two are focussing on automotive engine lubrication aiming to introduce nanolubricants for power, manufacturing and construction industry. According to Professor Khalid, “We are also exploring nanolubricant solutions for locomotive, marine, and aerospace industries. We see nanolubricants playing a huge role in industry 4.0, also dubbed as the fourth industrial revolution.”

    The duo also tested ‘Infinoil’ at third party certified labs, 1000cc, 1800cc and 4-stroke single cylinder engines used in motor-bikes.

    The Graphene and Advanced 2D Materials Research Group (GAMRG) is part of the Research Centre of Nano-materials and Energy Technology (RCNMET) under the School of Science and Technology at Sunway University.

    Sunway University, one of 16 institutions under the Sunway Education Group is one of Malaysia’s leading private universities. Among the University’s wide offerings are various diplomas, undergraduate and post-graduate programmes which are validated by the prestigious Lancaster University, UK and accredited by the world renowned Le Cordon Bleu. Sunway University also has academic ties with Harvard University, University of Cambridge and University of Oxford.