The environmental responsibilities of companies and individuals have never been more important. When it comes to lubrication, the industrial track record is not a pretty one. There are many reasons for this, ranging from the suitability of products to outdated mindsets.
However, the routine usage of environmentally-friendly lubricants in everyday machinery is something that’s fast becoming a hot topic. Although biodegradable oils and lube have not yet become mainstream – even though they can easily be sourced – they offer many advantages over and above the environmental aspect.
The following looks at why companies should be leaning towards bio-lubrication, why change is so slow, and how technology has finally brought viable products to market.
What are Biodegradable Lubricants?
Lubricant is used in a wide range of mechanical equipment. From water treatment to mining, food production and other industries, reducing friction within the seals, motors, drives and engines of assets is an essential operation element.
While biodegradable oils have been around for many years, it’s only now that interest is increasing. This is partly due to ever-increasing legislation, market conditions, public perception and company desire to be seen to be making environmentally sound decisions.
Biodegradable lubricants are classified as being:
- Readily biodegradable: In other words, they break down quickly. Industry standards, such as ISO 9439 and OECD 301B, require a lubricant to degrade by more than 60% within 28 days to conform. This shouldn’t be confused with many traditional lubricants that will – given enough time – eventually degrade. These are referred to as being inherently biodegradable. After all, given enough time, anything will break down, but this could be in years, decades or even centuries. Any lubricant labelled as readily biodegradable must have been tested to ensure it meets the 28-day requirement.
In addition, consideration should also be given to the component blend of a lubricant. While it’s not an industry-standard requirement for biodegradability, you might want to ensure that it has low toxicity and be non-bio-accumulating. It goes without saying that it must have as good, if not better, lubrication properties as more traditional offerings.
Advantages of Biodegradable Lubricants
Rapidly advancing technology has given birth to lubricants that can match and even out-perform their not so environmentally-sound predecessors. This brings many advantages, including:
- Dramatically less user exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Safer worker environments
- Addressing environmental responsibilities
- Greater customer confidence. If a company pays attention to what might be considered a small detail, then it bodes well that the same care is applied to every aspect of trading and operation
Nobody Likes Change
There are many reasons companies have been reluctant to change to a biodegradable option. One of the most common is a misconception about green choices. Many mistakenly believe that it’s more expensive, that switching involves unnecessary asset downtime or that they underperform or aren’t suitable for many applications.
While some of these might have been true a few years ago, nothing could now be further from the truth. Biodegradable lubricants exist that match and exceed traditional performance. As technology has advanced, so the cost of bio-lube has been reduced, making it a truly affordable option. While there may be a need to briefly shut down equipment to drain the previously used lubricant, this drawback will soon be overcome by the many benefits of switching.
As we edge further towards a wholly responsible industry, even the small choices, such as the type of lubrication used for machinery, will become increasingly important. Making the change will, at some point, be mandatory. But with the many advantages it brings, it’s becoming apparent that those who fail to make real-time change are missing out on benefits that will, directly and indirectly, positively impact the company’s bottom line.
One company that’s at the forefront of the environmental lubrication revolution is Chesterton. The company was always a trendsetter and was keen to bring a viable, affordable, high-performing machinery lubricant to the market that utilised environmentally-safe ester technology and was readily biodegradable. The answer? The Chesterton 650 AML (advanced machinery lubricant) is designed to lube internal workings of sliding mechanisms, chains, cables, pneumatics and needle bearings.
Visit Chesterton 650 AML to discover the solution that offers superior lubrication and does so at an affordable cost – both on the pocket and the planet.
This article was featured in Pump Industry.