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Monday, 13 May 2013

The best lubricant choice for the environment.

Making the best lubricant choice for the environment can improve efficiency.

Unfortunately oil has long been associated with pollution and damage, but this can be turned around by consciously choosing the best oil for the environment.

Fortunately, it is relatively easy to reduce the impact by changing the way lubricants are being used and even by making more use of synthetic lubricants.

For example, oil in equipment should not be
changed unless it has reached the end of its useful life. This is typically not the case, because the oil is often changed based on an arbitrary time criteria or because of contaminants such as water or dirt. These contaminants can normally be removed with the proper equipment, and the useful life of the lubricant extended by using relevant synthetic oil.

A longer oil lifecycle is not only environmentally friendly by contributing less liquid waste, but there are other benefits as well:
  • Cost savings because labour can be used more effectively elsewhere. 
  • Fewer shutdowns for oil changes. 
These added costs can amount to at least five times the price of the oil alone – often leading to substantial cost savings by using more expensive synthetics.

In addition, not having to drain the old oil, move it for disposal and bring in new oil also means less chance of spills.

Choosing the most effective lubricant for the environment.

For a lubricant to be environmentally effective, a number of correct decisions must be made throughout its service life, such as the following:

Initial Selection.
Selecting the proper lubricant is important to sharply reduce long-term costs and effects. The best-fit product selection can mean longer lubricant life, reduced machine wear, reduced incipient power losses and improved safety.

The correct choice might be synthetic lubricants, lubricants with different additives, or biodegradable products and/or products with less environmental impact. The best product selection for each application varies, depending upon the application specifics.

Product selection from an environmental perspective is a bit more complicated. One must consider a number of factors such as:
  • Whether the base materials are from renewable resources. (Such as is the case with most Synthetic lubricants) 
  • How much energy is used to drive the equipment. 
  • Are there any safety requirements from the oil – Fire resistant oils are often required. 
  • Efficiency – using a lower viscosity can reduce energy losses. 
  • Biodegradability – this is important in agricultural or marine applications. 
  • Service life – often, synthetic lubricants can extend this significantly. 
Equipment Design
Eliminating conditions such as hot spots and air entrainment, as well as providing a good ergonomic design, will reduce the stresses on the lubricant. Proper and effective maintenance is the key for maximum performance from both the equipment and the lubricants.

Equipment should have adequate seals to prevent the ingress of contaminants and reduce lubricant loss. Breathers should have adequate provisions for filtration to remove particulates and contact-type shaft seals should be selected based on lifecycle and durability. These kinds of features help extend the life of the lubricant and the equipment. Proper component selection and configuration can also mean lower temperatures resulting in extended lube life.

Reducing Liquid Waste and Cost
Industrial lubricant lifecycles can be extended dramatically from typical annual lifecycles if the lubricant is managed effectively in the sump. To get maximum value from the oil-lubricated components, keep the oil cool, clean and dry.

For self-contained sumps this can simply mean ensuring that make-up oil is added properly, that the breathers are adequate and operational, and that any cloudiness is corrected.

For circulating oil systems, ensure that the make-up oil is not a source of contaminant. In most cases, side-stream filtration, either continuous or intermittent, can be deployed to control these factors.

Condition Monitoring to extend the lifespan of the oil.

Lubricant condition monitoring (oil analysis), is critical for safe lifecycle extension. Analysis serves three main purposes:

First, it ensures that the right lubricant is in place. Viscosity, additive content and acid number are all telltale indicators of lubricant mixing. Some types of cross contamination become immediately evident. For example, even a slight amount of combustion engine oil mixed into the turbine circulating oil will destroy the turbine oil’s ability to shed water. Extreme pressure additives may be necessary in some cases, while the same additive may be detrimental in others. Generally, they shorten service lives or present additional considerations for materials such as for the plastic cages in bearings.

Secondly, machine condition monitoring, when done in conjunction with lubricant condition monitoring, provides a long-term view into the health of the production asset. An advantage of lubricant-based analysis is that it detects machine problems in the oil before the problems are manifested in the equipment. Other analysis methods, while certainly beneficial, measure for damage that already exists at a level which almost always requires repair.

Lastly, oil testing determines what is required to keep it in good condition. This can be purification or additive supplement through sweetening (bleed and feed). When contamination exists, it is usually an advantage if the lubricant can be treated while still in the equipment so an outage will not be required.

Implementing environmentally friendly lubrication.

1. Equipment Design. Request technical assistance to ensure that the equipment selection has been optimized for environmental and tribological considerations.
2. Selection of Lubes. Product selection can include additive packages, long-life synthetic lubricants, recycled oils, or biodegradable or environmentally friendly products.
3. Maintenance. Consider specialty maintenance items to reduce liquid waste and improve sampling procedures. Review condition monitoring testing, particularly the results and successes. Periodically perform a lubricant survey.
4. Condition Monitoring. Quick on-site tests can usually determine if the oil requires treatment or if the machine is in distress.
5. Reuse or Disposal. Cost-effective alternatives to disposal are offered because the fluid can often be used in less-demanding applications either on-site or in other industries. For example, mineral oil could be made into a cutting fluid or recycled.
6. Persistence. Last but not least, it is important to plan operations to reduce the environmental impact of operation and/or spills.

It should be easy to make improvements by taking advantage of one or more of the options in the previous section. This provides a win-win situation because not only can the equipment run better, but there is less environmental impact.


1. Know the products and equipment and use them wisely.
2. Know what lubricants you are using, and know how to track them from cradle to grave.
3. Have financial objectives in place that actively support the use of energy-saving green and/or cost-saving products.

When it comes to choosing the correct Lubricant strategy, to both protect the environment and reduce costs, it’s important to call on specialists with quality products.

Habot Synthetic Lubricants produce high quality synthetic lubricants that have, time and again, been proven to be the best lubricant choice for the environment.Give us a call for professional advice and quality products for the best solution for your application.


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