HPM grease standard: Are you performance-ready?

Chris Pether, Afton Chemical

The National Lubricating Grease Institute (NLGI) GC-LB certification mark, an indicator of high quality grease for over 30 years, has been joined by the new set of High-Performance Multiuse (HPM) standards. Afton Chemical explains what this milestone means for OEMs, formulators, marketers and end users.

Three decades is a long time for the wheels of progress to turn. Industrial materials and technologies have evolved considerably since 1989, when the original NLGI GC-LB mark was launched following 20 years of development.

The challenges faced by OEMs and end-users mean the grease industry has had to step up,’ says Joe Kaperick, Senior Adviser Grease Technology at Afton Chemical. ‘For too long grease has been viewed as the most basic of lubricants; it’s time to acknowledge its ability to deliver real performance gains.’

Modern greases experience increasingly diverse operating conditions, often working under higher temperatures and loads. OEMs demand ever-greater protection for their machines, while operators face pressure to improve profitability by reducing their total cost of ownership – including maintenance.

Premium greases can help extract maximum value from hardware by offering efficiencies with better wear protection and extended service intervals.

This need to deliver on multiple fronts is what resulted 18 LUBE MAGAZINE NO.162 APRIL 2021

in the High-Performance Multiuse grease standard. ‘Given the variety of grease applications, this new HPM standard was no small feat,’ explains Kaperick, who, as NLGI’s president at the time, made its development and implementation a focal point. ‘The NLGI brought together industry stakeholders to define and agree the relevant performance areas in just over 12 months, which is impressively quick and shows the industry’s appetite for higher performance.’

The core HPM standard demands better performance in key tests from existing NLGI specifications. It also introduces additional tests, which better reflect the need to withstand more severe operating conditions for longer periods. Sub-categories offer enhanced performance in four key areas: water resistance, salt-water corrosion resistance, high load-carrying capacity and low temperatures.

‘Both the core HPM mark and enhanced sub-categories are purely performance-based; they do not dictate the chemistries required to achieve them,’ says Kaperick. Additive companies, formulators and OEMs may therefore use their choice of additive components or packages. ‘Having freedom in this respect is important, given a variety of starting points and different formulation routes for meeting the specifications.’

Even with this freedom, creating high-performance grease is not straightforward. Some performance additives work antagonistically, whereas others work well together or can even have a synergistic effect.

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