Muc-Off enters the lab with Government-backed lubrication project

Muc-Off has announced its involvement in a Government-backed research and development project on the topic of lubrication, performed alongside two UK-based laboratories.

The ambition of the team is to “create a fast, highly reproducible novel measurement and analysis process to determine and score lubricant performance and durability. It also aimed to assess the environmental impact of lubrication formulations.”

In progress already, the work is funded by the Government’s Innovate UK body, which lends financial support to projects that look set to drive productivity and economic growth. The laboratories involved in the project are the National Physical Laboratory and the National Measurement Laboratory.

Progress thus far has seen the NML discover specifically what combination and quantities of chemical components make for the quickest and most durable lubrication utilising bespoke tests developed by using mass spectrometry combined with gas chromatography and direct analysis.

Meanwhile, the tribology laboratory at NPL has been using its precise equipment to measure the effects of multiple lubrication formulations on the friction between drive train components, specifically the interface between the pin and side plates.

The team working on this project used first principle mathematics to establish a formula which can be used going forward to calculate accurate loads, speeds and contact pressures specifically for the cycling application.

Results from the tests are to be published in full later this year.

“Muc-Off strives to take the ‘myth and anecdote’ out of bicycle chain lubrication by the application of good science and results-based data. This research project gave us a better, more transparent understanding of performance, faster product development with fewer iterations which will ultimately lead to more targeted performance gains for the end consumer,” said Alex Trimnell, CEO at Muc-Off.

Muc-Off is already well-placed in the lubrication market, with its R&D labs already featuring a Chain Lube Optimisation Dynamometer that is said to provide quantifiable data based on real-world testing and that can be used with add-on environmental chamber units. These can be placed inside the businesses’ in-house temperature chamber.

This dynamometer was used for the development for Bradley Wiggin’s Hour Record NTOC chain, as well the best-selling Hydrodynamic Lube, which has Grand Tour wins and Olympic medals associated with its name. Claims made on this project were later disputed by rivals.

“The development of bicycle chain lubricant is a time consuming and iterative process with much of the chemical and additive technology being handed down from other industries and based on the expertise of the individual blending more than fact-based science. This is something that we as a business aim to change,” adds Dr Martin Mathias, Research & Development Manager at Muc-Off.

“This research project with Muc-Off allowed NPL to develop the blueprint Muc-Off needed to set a new level of testing for future analysis and development of lubrication for bicycles,” concludes Dr Timothy Kamps MEng CEng MIMechE, Higher Research Scientist, Advanced Materials Characterisation, National Physical Laboratory (NPL).