Is it really true that everything “new” in engines is old? Some days it seems that way. Today we received word of a nanoceramic oil additive for combustion engines (and other mechanical-friction applications) from CerMetLab that offers itself as a way to reduce metal-on-metal friction and improve fuel economy and efficiency by 15 percent. Does it work? Heck if I know. Here is what CerMet says about their technology:

CERMET’s revitalization process is based on unique nano-particle technology unlike anything in the world today. CERMET LABS is the leader in nano-particle metal treatment science. CERMET’s physicochemical processes take place in any metal-to-metal friction zone and will actually transform the metal surfaces, at the atomic level, into a stronger ceramic-metal bond. CERMET hardens the metal’s crystal lattice at the surface up to 30 microns. This new hardened surface emulates the properties of pure Ceramic, hence the name CerMet (Ceramic-Metal), and will reduce friction up [sic] 100-300%. CERMET will also reduce surface roughness up to 10 times. Unlike typical ceramic coatings that become brittle, the stronger CERMET surface is actually an extremely integrated structure inside the metals surface. It is impossible to see where the metal ends and the CERMET begins because together they have become a single solid structure that is harder and smoother than the original metal surface, thus reducing friction and internal losses. One of the phenomena surrounding CERMET’s incredible nano-particle technology is the fact that “atomic attractors” are also created at the metal’s surface. Utilizing the friction energy, these atomic attractors will re-attract the minute metal particles floating around inside the lubrication and attach themselves (micro-weld) back onto the worn part inside the friction zone where it is needed most. This, in turn, is an ongoing rebuilding process that will renew your metal parts and never over-build. To explain – once both surfaces of a friction pair have been transformed to the new Ceramic-Metal structure, the dramatic reduction in friction lowers the energy level to a point where the physiochemical process will no longer be activated. With new mechanisms, adding CerMet is like building a custom part every time where tolerances are optimized and performance is enhanced. CERMET’s nano-particle technology not only performs in an incredible fashion but also is completely self-regulating and will keep your parts operating much longer in like-new condition.

Look, I’ll leave the field evaluation to others, but CerMet is having a hard time passing my personal “sniff” test.  Why? Well, maybe it’s the goofy pictures of their hard-working, elbow-bumping, crew of scientists in white lab coats, or maybe it’s the references in the above quoted section about “reduce friction up 100-300%” or “reduce surface roughness up to 10 times.” (Note to CerMet: Have some of those guys in the lab coats bone up on their “goesintas” and basic math concepts before making statements like that.) It also doesn’t help that their story of their “incredible” discovery claims to have been stumbled upon in the 1950s in the former Soviet Union and then kept secret for use on coatings of submarines, etc. for decades. It would be really nice is something like this worked, but at $199 a pop, even the suckers are going to think twice. And, for those of you who don’t exactly recall Slick 50, it, and a slew of copycat products, sprang on the automotive market claiming that their polytetrafluoroethylene (aka, Teflon)-containing brew could be added to engine oil to decrease friction and increase power and mileage. It started out being sold at $40-$60 per bottle until its claims started to be disputed and complaints about the PTFE clogging small oil passageways started to come in. Now you can’t give the stuff away.