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Lube-Tech


Chemical Modification of Vegetable Oils The most common chemical modification of vegetable oils has been partial or full hydrogenation that has been in use for frying food. Fully hydrogenated vegetable oils are solid at room temperature and are used in food products and in frying applications. When stability and liquidity is desired, as in cooking oil, then the vegetable oil is partially hydrogenated. Hydrogenation of vegetable oils is known to result in creation of trans fatty acids with negative health effects. As a result, genetic enhancements of oil seeds have gained popularity to produce oils that are naturally stable enough that eliminate the need for hydrogenation. But, the resulting oils have been helpful for making more stable lubricants without the need for reduced need for additives or for hydrogenation.


Other chemical modifications include esterification that results a more stable oil with known physio- chemical properties and offer more consistency than the natural vegetable oils whose properties could change as a result of changes in soil or growing conditions. Simply described, esters are produced by reacting an alcohol with a vegetable oil and removing the glycerol component. If, for example, methanol is the choice alcohol in esterification, then the ester would be methyl ester. Esters could be produced to have different viscosities. Complex esters, Estolides, and other chemical processes are used to produce known and consistent esters for use in industrial applications. For many industrial applications where the oil has long residency in the machine, like hydraulic oils, the use of select esters is preferred. Chemical modifications and esterification of vegetable oils increase their cost; and based on the complexity of the modification the cost could range from 1.5x to 3x that of vegetable oils. This necessitates the need to match the base oil that performs the best and is economical for the end use.


Synthesising to form esters allows the oil to ‘calibrate’ to perform in very high temperatures or in very cold


28 LUBE MAGAZINE NO.156 APRIL 2020


PUBLISHED BY LUBE: THE EUROPEAN LUBRICANTS INDUSTRY MAGAZINE


No.127 page 3


temperatures far above or below the vegetable oils could in their natural form. Examples of synthetic esters include simple/monoesters, diesters, polyol esters, complex ester, and aromatic esters. Table 3 shows a list of esters with their respective properties.


Table 3: Example of commercially available esters.


Source: Zschimmer-Schwarz.com https://www.zschimmer-schwarz.com/


Biodegradability The term refers to ability of a product to break down in the environment when exposed to the soil or water bacteria or organisms. The well-recognised standard tests are established by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and come in series of tests known as OECD 301 Series and include:


301 A: Is an aerobic biodegradation test used for non-volatile and soluble (100mg/L) substances. for ready or ultimate biodegradation.


301 B: Carbon Dioxide Evolution (Modified Sturm Test)


301 C: MITI (I) (Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Japan)


301 D: Closed Bottle Test. Suitable for poorly soluble materials and for volatile and absorbing material samples.


301 E: Modified OECD Screening 301 F: Manometric Respirometry Method. Simply


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