Companies Turn to "Green" Lubricants to Reduce Pollution

May 1, 2004
The U.S. Pollution Prevention Act establishes a national policy to reduce or prevent pollution at its source wherever feasible.

By Mike McHenry

The U.S. Pollution Prevention Act establishes a national policy to reduce or prevent pollution at its source wherever feasible. Green chemistry prevents pollution through the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous materials.

With principals focusing on biodegradability, energy efficiency, and safer fluids, companies stand to significantly benefit by incorporating these philosophies into their business practices. Lubricant manufacturers like Anderol are using these fundamentals toward engineering products to help companies meet not only environmental goals but also production efficiency.

Lubricants inherently reduce friction and decrease equipment wear, resulting in reduced energy consumption and extended equipment life. While all lubricants have this capability, certain synthetic lubricant technologies are engineered to specifically address environmental initiatives such as energy conservation, rate of biodegradability, reduced waste, lower toxicity, and lower VOCs. Each of these characteristics is vital to helping companies reach environmental initiatives.

Government regulations have played an important role in stimulating the demand for products using environmentally friendly principles. Companies are also driven by consumer pressures from an economic and environmental perspective. While facing stricter environmental policies, negative public perception for environmental carelessness can also be detrimental to a company's corporate image, resulting in a loss in sales.

New lubrication technologies allow chemists and formulators to create products that are both eco-sensitive and exhibit superior performance characteristics. For example, Anderol's BDC 46 passes the ASTM D-5864-95 biodegradability test and has a proven service life of 10,000 hours between drains.

Standard vegetable oil based lubricants, although biodegradable, cannot satisfy a number of technical and performance requirements. Synthetic lubricants, which in many instances incorporate vegetable derived components, offer superior oxidative thermal resistance, better low temperature behavior, and improved resistance to hydrolysis.

Users of synthetic lubricants typically can operate in more extreme applications for longer periods of time while minimizing energy consumption and environmental impact. In general, synthetics have been proven to extend equipment drain life 3X to 4X versus a mineral oil. This could reduce used oil removal from once a year to once every 3-4 years depending on the equipment and recommended service interval.

Specially formulated synthetic lubricants exhibit significant advantages over conventional and bio-based chemistries. They offer a higher level of equipment performance, increased reliability, enhanced safety protection, increased energy conservation, and lower disposal costs. All of these issues are relevant to a wide range of industries such as oil and gas, mining, shipping, water treatment, and power generation.

By incorporating green lubricant technologies into operations, companies can increase their profitability while achieving environmental goals more efficiently.

Additionally, the investment associated with implementing a synthetic lubricant is substantially less than the purchase of new capital equipment. When considering the costs of negative environmental impact or heavy government fines, the investment in a synthetic green lubricant is easily justified.

Green chemistry products are designed with improved human health and environmental conditions in mind and are gaining momentum through increased government regulation, industry best practice initiatives and consumer awareness. In the near future, green lubricants will become widespread with uses in many industrial applications.

Before a company adopts synthetic lubricant technology, it is important to partner with a knowledgeable lubricant technology provider to identify application specific strategies for meeting production and environmental goals.

About the Author:
Mike McHenry is Vice President of Marketing and Technology for Anderol Inc.

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