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Manual Lubricants and Lubrication, Second Edition

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Chapter 5Practical Experiences with Lubricant Problems.

2nd Edition

Chapter 6Performance Levels Classification Specification. Chapter 7Other Lubricants for Road Vehicles. Chapter 8Other Specialized Oils of Interest. Precision of Laboratory Tests. Approximate Engine and RigTest Prices Crankcase Lubricant Performance Standards. Chapter 9Blending Storage Purchase and Use. Chapter 11The Future. Basic Petroleum Chemistry.

Stamping with third-generation dry-film lubricants

The S I System of Units. Lubricating Oil for TwoStroke. Useful Industry Websites. About the Authors.

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Natural soybean oil has oleic content of roughly 20 percent. Modern genetic engineering has provided canola, soybean and sunflower oil with oleic content exceeding 80 percent. This increase in oleic content translates into oxidative life that is approximately three to four times what was possible with conventional soybean oil.

Basics of Lubrication - Afton Chemical

These oils seem well-suited for all but the most demanding applications. Many types of these basestocks do provide lower coefficients of friction than mineral oils. Synthetic Esters Given technology's progression, tomorrow's gearboxes and other mechanical components will be charged with doing more work in the same space or less. Operating speeds, loads and temperatures will likely increase.

Synthetic esters - including diesters and polyolesters - are constructed from organic acids and alcohols and may offer the next step up with regard to the performance combination of increased thermal, oxidative and hydrolytic stability of biodegradable lubricants. Synthetic esters offer excellent high- and low-temperature performance combined with low volatility, and good lubricity and hydrolytic stability.

Synthetic ester fluids are an excellent choice for rotary screw air compressor applications and can provide service life in excess of other synthetic fluid technologies, biodegradable or not. Diesters are known to be rather aggressive to elastomers.


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Take care when considering seal compatibility with them. Polyolesters are used to formulate fire-resistant hydraulic oils. Multiple types of synthetic esters are available in a wider viscosity range than other types of bio-based lubricants, thus expanding their suitability for various applications.

Enhanced lubricants offer increased efficiency potential

Polyglycols can offer good biodegradability and can be produced in a wide viscosity range. Higher molecular weight polyglycols degrade at slower rates, and it appears that there is a need for additional study of their biodegradation.


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Polyglycols offer many of the same benefits as polyolesters, although they are more likely to affect some seals and paints. They have excellent lubricity and high viscosity indexes that allow very good characteristics at temperature extremes. They are not miscible with mineral or polyalphaolefin oils. They may offer greater hydrolytic stability than polyolesters. In gear applications, poly-glycol gear oil may offer benefits over other gear lubricants such as increased lubricity that may lower amp draw when compared to mineral oil and other synthetics, resulting in energy savings and possibly lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Two common families of polyglycols are polyethylene glycols and polypropylene glycols. Polyethylene glycols are water soluble; polypropylene glycols are not. A few of the more common methods for assessing biodegradability are applicable to only non-water soluble lubricants.

Polyalphaolefins PAO with kinematic viscosities under 6 centistokes cSt are readily biodegradable and offer good low-temperature performance, hydrolytic stability and low volatility. They make an excellent choice for barrier fluids and seal lubricants in applications where low viscosity fluid is necessary. Higher-viscosity PAO fluids exist and perform extremely well, but they shift from readily biodegradable to inherently biodegradable fluids. Terms and Tests No discussion of environmentally friendly or biodegradable lubricants can be complete without giving meaning to what is meant or implied by the terminology in the market and how lubricants are classified as this or that.

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While products positioned as environmentally friendly, acceptable or compatible are labeled by mostly subjective means, properties such as toxicity and biodegradability can be measured, and results of specific test methods determine into which classification given lubricant products fall. Biodegradable products can be broken down by fungi or bacteria found in nature from complex molecules original material to simple molecules or compounds, right down to basic materials of construction such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, water or carbon dioxide. Lubricants can be either readily biodegradable or inherently biodegradable.


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Inherently biodegradable lubricants will degrade to some extent in some undefined longer period of time. They may have the potential to bioaccumulate; this persistence in the environment may or may not result in pollution or environmental damage. Readily biodegradable lubricants will biodegrade to a determined extent in a short period of time. There is currently no industry or performance standard to assess biodegradability, but there are a number of test methods in existence.

What is biodegradable by one test method may not be so under another. The CEC tests measure primary degradation only. They do not measure the ultimate fate of lubricant molecules. They are concerned with how much of the original material degrades into something else. These primary degradation products may not be the final products on the path to complete degradation, and some degradation products may pose their own concerns. OECD tests measure aerobic degradation by checking loss of carbon, consumption of oxygen and evolved carbon dioxide.

These tests are a better measure of ultimate biodegradability. Eco-labeling such as the European Union Eco-Label considers both biodegradability of the lubricant combined with toxicity hazards to humans, aquatic environments and the overall environment. The fully formulated lubricant and individual components are subject to scrutiny. In addition, for hydraulic fluids and some other fluid types, there are technical performance standards such as oxidation stability, demulsibility, seal swell and wear tests that must be met. Important Reminders Selection of a biodegradable, environmentally friendly or environmentally compatible lubricant would seem to be best done just as it would with any other lubricant.