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The use of a substance to prevent contact between solid surfaces in relative motion in order to reduce friction, wear, overheating, and rusting. Liquid hydrocarbons (oils), either derived from petroleum or made synthetically, are the most widely used lubricants as they are relatively inexpensive, are good coolants, provide the appropriate range of viscosities, and are thermally stable. Additives include polymeric substances that maintain the desired viscosity as the temperature increases, antioxidants that prevent the formation of a sludge, and alkaline-earth phenates that neutralize acids and reduce wear.

At high temperatures, solid lubricants, such as graphite or molybdenum disulphide, are often used. Semifluid lubricants (greases) are used to provide a seal against moisture and dirt and to remain attached to vertical surfaces. They are made by adding gelling agents, such as metallic soaps, to liquid lubricants.

Subjects: Physics — Chemistry.

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