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Lube-Tech


described, in this test method standard bacteria are introduced into bottles containing water and nutrients and the sample to be tested. If the sample is biodegradable it would serve as food for the bacteria and is consumed by them. The growth of bacteria results in consumption of oxygen and creation of vacuum with the test bottles as well as production of carbon dioxide through respiration. The test instrument then allows oxygen to enter the bottle through an oxygen flowmeter technique. It also has a means of absorbing the respirated carbon dioxide. The sample bottles are compared with reference bottles that contain only bacteria and standardised nutrients. The samples that show oxygen consumption equal to 60% of the reference bottles within the first 10 days and maintain such level of oxygen consumption for 28 days are considered biodegradable. Figure 3 shows a biodegradability test instrument using the OECD 301 F.


PUBLISHED BY LUBE: THE EUROPEAN LUBRICANTS INDUSTRY MAGAZINE


No.127 page 4


Biodegradable: Products that pass the OECD 301 series tests of biodegradability – 60% biodegradable in 28 days – Products could be made from renewable or non-renewable hydrocarbons. For example, some Polyalphaolefins (PAOs) although derived from petroleum can pass biodegradability tests. So, they are biodegradable but are NOT Biobased.


Biobased: Products that are made of RENEWABLE hydrocarbons. Products are described in terms of their Percent Renewable Carbon Content. For example, vegetable oils and most vegetable or animal fat-derived esters are considered Biobased and pass the tests of biodegradability. So, they are considered BOTH biodegradable AND Biobased.


To determine the percent of biobased content a standard carbon dating technique is used. To certify as Biobased product by the US Department of Agriculture, products will need to be tested using the ASTM D6866 - 18 – “Standard Test Methods for Determining the Biobased Content of Solid, Liquid, and Gaseous Samples Using Radiocarbon Analysis”.


To qualify as Biobased for the purpose of meeting the Purchase Preference requirements by the US Federal Purchasers.


1. Contact the USDA Biopreferred Program 2. Submit a request and send products to certified qualified labs for testing


3. If product meets the minimum biobased content within its category, then the product receives Biobased designation


4. Perform Life Cycle Analysis as per the National Institute of Standard method.


Figure 3: 301 F biodegradability test instrument: (above showing the sample test bottles in water bath with cover removed); and (below) Oxygen flowmeters feeding oxygens to the test bottles).


Picture: Courtesy of Environmental Lubricants Manufacturing, Inc.


In general, in Europe the environmental emphasis is on biodegradability regardless of renewability; whereas in the US, the emphasis is on Biobased or renewability and petroleum substitution; that often also results in biodegradability.


LUBE MAGAZINE NO.156 APRIL 2020 29


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