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Lube-Tech


Whilst it is commonly accepted that viscosity is a limiting factor for biodegradability, synthetic esters may be highly viscous and still demonstrate high levels of biodegradability, as illustrated below:


ISO VG 100: 63% ISO VG 320: 67% ISO VG 1000: 79%


f. The molecular diameter of synthetic esters is greater than 1.5 nm, for the vast majority of esters used in lubrication: C-C single bond indeed is 0.12 to 0.15 nm long.


Moreover, REACH related testing has shown that their Bio Concentration Factor (BCF) is usually well below 100 l/kg.


These 2 factors make synthetic esters products that are very unlikely to bioaccumulate, according to European Ecolabel criteria.


g. Their chemical structures may be chosen to include raw materials made from renewable carbon sources. Renewability content can reach 100% on some esters.


Alcohols are generally petroleum derived, so renewable material will be coming from fatty acids, derived from rapeseed or canola oil, tall oil, tallow, palm and palm kernel oil, coconut oil, castor oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil... amongst other oils.


PUBLISHED BY LUBE: THE EUROPEAN LUBRICANTS INDUSTRY MAGAZINE


No.112 page 3


As a result, synthetic esters do contribute to improved sustainability, as they deliver added human safety, they exhibit excellent environmental profiles, they may decrease dependency on fossil resources, and they contribute to fuel economy improvement and reduction of CO2


emissions. This is


a unique set of properties combining performance and good environmental profile.


For instance, synthetic esters are excellent candidates for the formulation of European Ecolabel certified, Vessel General Permit compliant, OSPAR listed lubricants like hydraulic fluids, stern tube oils, subsea fluids... and greases.


5. Ester based greases Producing greases on the basis of synthetic esters may require some adjustments in the manufacturing process, especially with high viscosity esters. Resulting greases are expected to show most of the benefits listed for ester base fluids.


GREASE A : bentonite grease, group I mineral base fluid GREASE B : bentonite grease, synthetic ester base fluid


The remarkable thing about these fluids is that their biodegradability is not necessarily limited by viscosity. Biodegradable esters are available in a very wide range of viscosities, from ISO VG 15 to ISO VG 1000. High viscosity esters may be used to formulate marine greases used for ropes, metal cables, winches, open gears or bearings, and complying with environmental standards.


A specific European Ecolabel category is defined for greases: they must content over 75% of biodegradable components and over 45% of carbon from renewable origins. Their aquatic toxicity must exceed 1000 mg/l on algae, daphnia, and fish – amongst other criteria.


The above compound is the reaction product of trimethylopropane (petroleum derived) with hexanoic acid (vegetable based). As a result 6 carbon atoms are petroleum derived and 18 are vegetable derived, out of a total of 24. Hence this product contains 75% renewable carbon.


For a given chemical structure, the origin of the raw materials may impact the performance of the resulting ester.


An NLGI 2, multi-purpose grease was formulated using an ISO VG 150 synthetic ester, thickened with Lithium 12-hydroxystearate, and suitable additives (figure 3). Such grease shows good overall features and is European Ecolabel certified.


6. Going further into sustainability Extending the above sustainability notions on greases means taking in account raw materials and grease production and transport, costs, lubrication lifetime, equipment maintenance, energy savings, and lubricant disposal through a thorough Life Cycle Assessment.


LUBE MAGAZINE NO.141 OCTOBER 2017 35


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