In the past two decades, many companies developed biodegradable lubricants. A prime example is
Exxon Mobil, with its Environmental Awareness Lubricants (EAL) line of hydraulic fluids. In the next
decade, we will see many more advances in biodegradable lubes and greases.
Three factors support this prediction:
- U.S. growers’ associations have made considerable investments on lubricants
research to reduce crop surpluses.
- The federal government is actively promoting "eco-friendly" products.
- There have been advancements in biodegradable lubricants technology and
genetic enhancement to seed oils.
Vegetable oils can be used as lubricants in their natural state. They can have excellent lubricity -far
superior to mineral oil. Lubricity is so significant that in some applications, such as tractor transmissions,
friction materials must be added in order to reduce clutch slippage. Some vegetable oils have passed
hydraulic pump/ wear tests, such as ASTM D2882 and ASTM D2271, in their natural form.
Vegetable oils also have a high Viscosity Index (VI); for example, 223 for soybean oil vs. 90 to 100 for
most petroleum oils. Restated, the viscosity of a high VI oil changes less than that of a low VI oil for a
given temperature change. An oil’s viscosity does not reduce as much when exposed to high temperatures,
and does not increase as much as petroleum oils when exposed to cold temperatures.
Another important characteristic of vegetable oils is a high flash point; 610°F (326°C) is the flash point
for soybean oil compared to a flash point of about 392°F (200°C) for mineral oils.
Most importantly, vegetable oils are biodegradable, renewable, and reduce dependence on imported
petroleum. Using lubricants made from soybean oil helps reduce surpluses of that crop, and stabilize
soy prices for American farmers. So, for machine shops and corporations with sustainability initiatives
in-place, these products offer significant community relations benefits.
Before you make a change to your lubrication selection, get advice from Acculube. Being green
should not cost you in productivity. Call us for state-of-the-art environmental options.
Also available: Atlantic DeOx Safe rust remover based on biodegradable organic technology.