In spite of total life cycle cost analyses and a higher degree of knowledge about what a breakdown or an unplanned stop of production may cost, there is still a search going on to find the cheapest grease per kilo or pound. We know better now, or should know better now. The hunt has to be to find the most effective solution. Shaving off a few cents by buying a lower quality may become a very costly operation. And while you are at it, why not try to choose a biodegradable version as well?

In the past biodegradable products have suffered from a lack of performance from the early days when ‘Biodegradability’ was the main feature, the rest of the specs were not really impressive. Today you can get a lubricant that has great properties, and by the way, also biodegradable. Yes, they cost more. Why? Yes, they are harder to make, but I am quite sure that the margins are higher in all levels/components compared to their mineral counterparts. But are they worth the added cost, I would say yes, they bring an added value and quite frankly because we now know better.

To move forward we need to stop betting on the dead cow (Lithium EP 2), we need to focus on getting out of the proverbial box. Development should be driven by functionality and own initiatives rather than spec sheets and legislations. There are, for sure, solutions from crossbreeding industries and their view on things. We made a biodegradable saw chain grease out of a grease developed for floodgates. We have investigated how pollen from the birch tree could fortify a grease as an alternative to MoS2 and Graphite. The pollen worked great, but where can you place an order for a ton?

Why is the mining industry such an interesting challenge from a lubrication standpoint? Mining has taken place for quite some time and will continue to do so. A mine usually covers an extremely wide spectrum of challenges, from the heavy, slow moving excavators to

the fast revolving electric motors. Presence of water and dirt, wide temperature ranges and long supply lines for the central lubrication systems.

As grease makers, we have three fundamental components to play with:

• The thickener • The liquid phase • The additives

The Thickener

Simple soaps have been dominating the scene offering good performance combined with cost effectiveness. Lithium for general purposes, Anhydrous Calcium for its increased capability to resist water.

Hybrid approaches such as Calcium-Lithium combine the beneficial properties from both soaps and are also widely used.

Complexes of Lithium provide a more stable bleed of the oil and with the higher soap content they often provide a better resistance at elevated temperatures and also prolong the re-lubrication intervals. The stability of the soap also provides benefits in terms of grease mobility and, as a consequence their use in central lubrication systems.

The next step is to complex a hybrid soap into a functional thickener, such as the Calcium Sulphonate Complex (CaSX) or the Alassca (LiCaX) that significantly increase the load carrying abilities through the soap itself rather than boosting the simpler soaps with a high viscous base oil to cope with the loads and vibrations. The tradeoff for early formulations of CaSx were reduced lubricity at lower and ambient temperatures. The lubricity issue was solved by the Alassca thickener system but in turn trades off some of the high temperature performance.

Continued on page 8



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