Today, there are countless terms in the lubricant industry relating to “environmentally-acceptable lubricants” making end users spin in circles of confusion figuring out which type to use… You have probably noticed more of your industrial applications are requiring “Vegetable Based” or “Biodegradable” lubricants, but what does this mean? In recent years, there have been regulations and standards established within the lubricants industry to prevent toxicity and contamination from harming the environment. Whether lubricant to environment contact is accidental or incidental, there are two main categories of “environmentally-friendly” lubricants that are crucial to understand. With the rising demand and projected popularity of these fluids, is it necessary to understand them and how they can impact your business. Depending on the application, there are different levels of biodegradability which can cause environmental harm if not applied correctly. The two main categories include:
Inherently Biodegradable lubricants are most commonly used in sensitive areas requiring a “passing grade” on aquatic animal tests. This means Inherently Biodegradable lubricants use additive chemistry containing no heavy metals or zinc while being made with a synthetic or highly refined base oil like a polyol ester base. Two of the brands Overlake Oil offers under this category include the Shell Tellus S3 series and the Petro-Canada Environ series.
Readily Biodegradable lubricants on the other hand utilize a vegetable or canola base oil and are blended with synthetic esters enabling them to pass the “60 day test.” This means Readily Biodegradable lubricants will degrade within 60 days of contact making them more commonly used in applications that take place over water. Overlake Oil’s most popular products under this category include the Shell Naturelle HF-E series as well as the Houghton Cosmolubric B series.
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Written by: Tia Fraatz