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SECTOR FOCUS: BIODEGRADABLE LUBRICANTS


Can mineral oil based hydraulic fluids offer an environmentally responsible solution?


Matthias Voss, Technical Services Advisor, Petro-Canada Lubricants; a HollyFrontier business


For an increasing number of industries, it is no longer enough to be environmentally aware, there is an expectation to take environmental action. As a result, the bio-lubricants market is growing, not simply because of societal demand, but by subsequently imposed national standards.


While sectors such as forestry, construction, agriculture, manufacturing and offshore drilling are under pressure to comply, they are also benefitting from extensive investment by lubricant companies to provide a range of environmental solutions. Meeting environmental standards is one thing, but the product needs to live up to performance needs, within the equipment operators’ budget.


Meeting these three criteria – environmental standards, performance and cost – is where the current products in the bio-lubricant space differ.


14 LUBE MAGAZINE NO.160 DECEMBER 2020


However, research and development has come a long way and today, there are options that mean satisfying one criteria, need not offset another. Mineral oil-based hydraulic fluids are one such example, and this article will make the case for considering the benefits of mineral-based products, to help disprove the commonly held perception that due to renewability and biodegradability requirements, hydraulic fluids based on mineral oils do not sit comfortably in the bio-lubricants space.


Where is the environmentally-friendly bar set? There are various national and international programmes in place to standardise environmental and performance criteria. The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Vessel General Permit (2013 VGP) requirement for sea bound vessels, and the European Ecolabel, which was updated in 2018 and is the most widely accepted.


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