Is Carbon Black a Suitable Model Colloidal Substrate for Diesel Soot?

David J. Growney, Oleksandr O. Mykhaylyk, Laurence Middlemiss, Lee A. Fielding, Matthew J. Derry, Najib Aragrag, Gordon D. Lamb, Steven P. Armes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soot formation in diesel engines is known to cause premature engine wear. Unfortunately, genuine diesel soot is expensive to generate, so carbon blacks are often used as diesel soot mimics. Herein, the suitability of a commercial carbon black (Regal 250R) as a surrogate for diesel soot dispersed in engine base oil is examined in the presence of two commonly used polymeric lubricant additives. The particle size, morphology, and surface composition of both substrates are assessed using BET surface area analysis, TEM, and XPS. The extent of adsorption of a poly(ethylene-co-propylene) (dOCP) statistical copolymer or a polystyrene-block-poly(ethylene-co-propylene) (PS–PEP) diblock copolymer onto carbon black or diesel soot from n-dodecane is compared indirectly using a supernatant depletion assay technique via UV spectroscopy. Thermogravimetric analysis is also used to directly determine the extent of copolymer adsorption. Degrees of dispersion are examined using optical microscopy, TEM, and analytical centrifugation. SAXS studies reveal some structural differences between carbon black and diesel soot particles. The mean radius of gyration determined for the latter is significantly smaller than that calculated for the former, and in the absence of any copolymer, diesel soot suspended in n-dodecane forms relatively loose mass fractals compared to carbon black. SAXS provides evidence for copolymer adsorption and indicates that addition of either copolymer transforms the initially compact agglomerates into relatively loose aggregates. Addition of dOCP or PS–PEP does not significantly affect the structure of the carbon black primary particles, with similar results being observed for diesel soot. In favorable cases, remarkably similar data can be obtained for carbon black and diesel soot when using dOCP and PS–PEP as copolymer dispersants. However, it is not difficult to identify simple copolymer–particle–solvent combinations for which substantial differences can be observed. Such observations are most likely the result of dissimilar surface chemistries, which can profoundly affect the colloidal stability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10358-10369
Issue number38
Early online date16 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2015

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