Chemical glossary

Hero careers



The penetration of substances into the bulk of a solid or liquid.
ACTIVE The amount, in weight %, of titratable surfactant in a solution or formulation.  Almost every product has an active specification.
ADDITIVE Any material added to a base stock to change its properties, characteristics or performance.
ADSORPTION The surface retention of solid, liquid or gas molecules, atoms or ions by a solid or liquid.
ALKANOLAMINE An amine where some or all of the alkyl groups attached to the nitrogen contain hydroxyl functionality.  For example; triethanolamine (TEA), monisopropanolamine (MIPA).
ALKYLATE The product of a reaction between an olefin, such as 1-dodecene or Tetramer-M, and an aromatic hydrocarbon, such as benzene, toluene or diphenyl oxide.
AMPHOTERIC SURFACTANT A surfactant in which the hydrophile has both positive and negative charges.  Examples; betaines and amine oxides.   (see RFF 750.10.01 – SURFACTANTS)
ANIONIC SURFACTANT A surfactant in which the hydrophile is negatively charged.  Examples; sulfonates and sulfates.   (see RFF 750.10.01 – SURFACTANTS).
ANTIFOAM An additive used to suppress the foaming characteristics of a formulation in service.
ANTIMICROBIAL A chemical which either destroys or inhibits the growth of microscopic and sub-microscopic organisms.
ANTIWEAR ADDITIVE Compounds which form, or react to form, thin films on highly loaded parts in operation to prevent metal to metal contact, thereby reducing friction at the point of contact.
BASE OIL (NAPHTHENIC) A type of petroleum oil fluid derived from naphthenic crude oil.  Contains a high degree of closed ring methylene groups.
BASE OIL (PARAFFINIC) A type of petroleum oil fluid derived from paraffinic crude oil, containing a high proportion of straight chain saturated hydrocarbons.
BASE STOCK The base carrier fluid, usually a refined petroleum fraction or synthetic fluid, into which additives are blended to produce finished lubricants.
BIOCIDE A chemical agent which destroys microscopic and sub-microscopic organisms.
BRIGHT STOCK A heavy lubricant stock with a low pour point used in finished blends to provide film strength and to reduce the amount of oil consumed.
BUFFER A solution containing both a weak acid and its conjugate base which resists changes in pH brought on by addition of an acid or base to the solution.  (see RFF 705.10.09 – BUFFERS)
BUILDER Binds hardness ions, calcium and magnesium, to remove them from solution either as a soluble complex or as a precipitate.
CATIONIC SURFACTANT A surfactant in which the hydrophile is positively charged.  Examples; quaternary ammonium salts.   (see RFF 750.10.01 – SURFACTANTS).
CHELATION A process in which a metal ion is coordinatively bound to an organic molecule forming a heterocyclic ring.
CHROMATOGRAPHY The separation of the components of a mixture by use of differences in their interactions with a stationary medium.
CLOUD POINT Anionics – the temperature at which a product becomes turbid when it is cooled under specific conditions.
Nonionics – the temperature at which a product becomes turbid when it is warmed – (see RFF 705.10.55 – CLOUD POINT).
COMBINING WEIGHT The apparent equivalent weight of, for example, a sulfonic acid, where two or more acidic components, in this case the sulfonic acid product and sulfuric acid impurity, are present.  (see RFF 705.10.51 – COMBINING WEIGHT).
COMBUSTIBLE LIQUID A liquid which has a flash point above 100F.
CORROSION INHIBITOR An additive or a system used for protecting metal surfaces from chemical attack by water or other materials producing sulfides or oxides which result in metal fatigue or degradation. 
CRITICAL MICELLE CONCENTRATION The solution concentration of a surfactant at which micelles start to form in that solution.  (see RFF 705.10.03 – SURFACE TENSION).
DEMULSIBILTY A measure of a fluid’s ability to separate from water.
DETERGENT A synthetic cleansing agent resembling soap in its ability to remove a soil from a surface.
DISPERSION A stable distribution of fine solid particles in a liquid.
DuNOUY RING TENSIOMETER A piece of equipment which measures the force required to remove a ring of precisely known dimensions from a liquid surface.  This force is directly related to the surface tension of that liquid.  (see RFF 705.10.03 – SURFACE TENSION).
EMOLLIENT A softening agent, such as lanolin and its derivatives, for use on the skin.
EMULSIFIER An additive or system which promotes a stable mixture of oils/fats in water.
EMULSION A dispersion of one liquid in a second, immiscible liquid.  (see RFF 705.10.07 – EMULSIONS).
EMULSION POLYMERIZATION Emulsion polymerization is a heterogeneous, free-radical polymerization process in which the bulk of the polymeric product in formed inside micelles.
EP ADDITIVE A lubricant additive or system which prevents sliding metal surfaces from seizing under conditions of extreme pressure and force.
ETHOXYLATE Common name for a compound formed by the chemical addition of a number of molecules of ethylene oxide to an alcohol.
FLAMMABLE LIQUID A liquid which has a flash point below 100F.
FLASH POINT The lowest temperature at which vapors from a volatile liquid will ignite on application of an ignition source under specified conditions.  Flash point is a specification for some alkylates.
FLOCCULATION The process by which small particles in a dispersion slowly aggregate (or coalesce) to form flocs.
FOAM A foam is a stable, or otherwise, dispersion of a gas in a liquid.
FOAM BOOSTER A substance which enhances the quality and/or longevity of a foam.
FORMULATION A blend of a number of base chemicals and additives designed to accomplish a specific purpose.
GARDNER A unit of color density.  Measured by comparison of the material to be analyzed against standards of known intensity.  (see RFF 705.10.52 – COLOR).
HYDROGEN BONDING The electrostatic attraction between a hydrogen atom bearing a slight positive charge and an electronegative atom, such as oxygen, in the same (intramolecular), or a different (intermolecular) molecule.
HYDROPHILE-LIPOPHILE BALANCE A measure of the relative simultaneous attraction of an surfactant to both phases of an emulsion.
HYDROPHILE A material having an affinity for, attracting, adsorbing or absorbing water.  The opposite of hydrophobe.
HYDROPHOBE A material lacking affinity for, repelling, failing to adsorb or absorb water.  The opposite of hydrophile.
HYDROTROPE A substance, such as sodium xylene sulfonate, which increases the aqueous solubility of surfactants and other substances.  Hydrotropes are sometimes used to reduce a systems viscosity.  (see RFF 705.10.08 – HYDROTROPES).
HYDROXYL NUMBER A measure of the hydroxyl content of ethoxylates.  Measured titrimetrically.  Usually used for molecular weight determinations.
KLETT A unit of color density.  Measured by the light absorption of a clear solution using a Klett-Summerson photoelectric colorimeter.  (see RFF 705.10.52 – COLOR).
KRAFFT POINT The temperature at which the solubility of an ionic surfactant becomes equal to the critical micelle concentration.  (see RFF 705.10.55 – KRAFFT POINT).
LYOPHILE A material having an affinity for, attracting, adsorbing or absorbing oil.  The opposite of lyophobe.
LYOPHOBE A material lacking affinity for, repelling, failing to adsorb or absorb oil.  The opposite of lyophile.
MICELLE Colloidal aggregates of surfactant molecules.  Micelles first form in a surfactant solution at a well-defined concentration known as the Critical Micelle Concentration.  (see RFF 705.10.03 – MICELLES).
MONOMER A simple molecule, such as styrene, which has the ability to combine with a number of like or unlike molecules to form a polymer – polystyrene or styrene/butadiene rubber.
NEUTRALIZATION The process by which acids, such as sulfonic or sulfuric acids, are reacted with bases, such as sodium hydroxide or triethanolamine, to give a salt, such as a sulfonate or sulfate.
NONIONIC SURFACTANT A surfactant in which the hydrophile is uncharged.  Examples; ethoxylated alcohols and phenols.   (see RFF 750.10.01 – SURFACTANTS).
OLEFIN A hydrocarbon containing a carbon-carbon double bond.  Olefins are also known as alkenes.
OLIGOMER A polymer made up with two, three or four monomer units, for example propylene tetramer.
OPACIFIER A substance, such as fatty acid esters, which, when added to a clear formulation, renders that formulation opaque – similar to pearlizer.
OXIDATION A chemical reaction which increases the oxygen content of a compound.  In metal-working, oxidation usually leads to viscosity increases and deposit formation.
PEARLIZER A substance, such as glycol distearate (EGDS), which, when added to a formulation, imparts an opalescent finish to that formulation.
pH A measure of the acidity or basicity of a solution.  Mathematically the pH is -log10 of the hydrogen ion concentration of the solution.  Under normal circumstances, the possible range of values is 0 -14.  A pH < 7 indicates acidity, > 7 indicates basicity.  pH is a common specification for water soluble materials.
PRESERVATIVE A chemical added to a product to inhibit the growth of bacteria.
RUST PREVENTATIVE A compound or formulated system used for coating metal surfaces to produce a film which protects against rust formation
SALT THICKENING The increase in viscosity of a micellar solution on the addition of an electrolyte, such as sodium chloride.  This is a similar effect to that seen with THICKENERS, but by a different mechanism.
SOIL In the surfactant world – any material, solid, liquid or paste contaminant adsorbed onto a substrate.
SOLIDS The amount, in weight %, of non-volatile material in a solution or formulation.  Solids content is a specification in a number of blends and formulations.
SOLUBLE OIL An oil that readily forms a stable emulsion or colloidal suspension in water.
SPECIFIC GRAVITY The ratio of the density of a material to that of a standard material at a specified temperature, usually water at 4C.
SULFATION The process by which an alcohol, such as lauryl alcohol, is reacted with sulfur trioxide (or chlorosulfonic acid) to give an alkyl sulfuric acid.
SULFONATION The process by which a material such as an alkylate is reacted with sulfur trioxide to give a sulfonic acid.
SURFACE TENSION The force acting on the surface of a liquid, tending to minimize the area of that surface.  (see RFF 705.10.03 – SURFACE TENSION).
SURFACTANT A material which possesses the ability to radically alter the free energy of a liquid surface or interface when present in the system at low concentrations.  The word surfactant is a contraction of the term surface active agent.  (see RFF 750.10.01 – SURFACTANTS)
THICKENER A substance, such as Xanthan Gum, which, when added in low concentrations to a fluid, raises the viscosity of that fluid.  (see also SALT THICKENING).
UNREACTED (OIL) Unreacted is an organic substance present in small amounts in products generally consisting of sulf(on)ation feedstock, for example an alkylate or fatty alcohol or reaction by-products, for example, sulfones.  (see RFF 705.10.53 – UNREACTED OIL).
VAPOR PRESSURE The pressure of vapor above a liquid or solid surface which is in equilibrium with that liquid or solid.
VISCOSITY The resistance the a liquid (or gaseous) system offers to flow when it is subjected to shear stress.  Viscosity is a specification for a number of oils, solutions and blends.
VISCOSITY INDEX The relationship of viscosity to temperature of a fluid.  High viscosity index fluids will display less change in viscosity with temperature.
WETTING The coating of a contact surface with an adherent film of liquid.