Green lubes technology advances around the world

From biolubes to recycling and enhanced testing, lubes producers continue to push climate-positive technology boundaries.

High oleic soybean oil using soybeans grown by US farmers, is now available, thanks to a partnership with the United Soybean Board (USB) and the US Department of Agriculture. The biobased oil is suitable for high-temperature automotive and industrial applications and both 5W-20 and 5W-30.  According to Tim Fitzgerald, director of fleet management for DC Water, one of the companies tasked with testing the new product: “This biobased motor oil exceeded our expectations in terms of performance and engine cleanliness. The oil samples have shown increased longevity and stability over time while the equipment appears to be cleaner, which is a definite plus for us. The oil is biodegradable and less harmful to the environment. I see real potential for greater use of this biobased alternative in the future.” The product is set for the US mass market and will even be available through internet store, Amazon. 

Meanwhile a new material has been discovered with the potential to manufacture lubricating oils and wax intermediates for surfactants. Research has revealed that linear polyethylene can be transformed into a narrow range of liquid hydrocarbons.  The work, carried out by a team at Argonne National and Ames laboratories, has discovered the micro material. The catalyst consists of two-nanometer platinum particles, held in place by strontium titanate (SrTiO3) nanocuboids, that are no larger than 100 nm. The SrTiO3 is similar to the calcium titanium oxide mineral perovskite, and was chosen because it can remain stable under the high temperatures and pressures needed in the hydrocarbon manufacturing process.

Elsewhere, scientists believe greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by between 40% and 96% with the discovery that ethanol could be converted into a new blend-stock. The stock consists of a mixture of C3 – C16 hydrocarbons containing paraffin, iso-paraffins, olefins, and aromatic compounds. Published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the paper outlines the simple, low-cost approach and reports major technological advances, cost advantages and carbon reduction benefits from transforming renewable ethanol into liquid fuels.

Focussing on increasing lubes additive testing, Afton Chemicals has announced the completion of its Japan Technology Centre expansion in Tsukuba. The new facility will include services such as sample blending, physical/chemical analysis and performance testing using ASTM, JIS, JPI, JASO and JCMAS methods. The state-of-the-art facility houses a team of 17 R&D managers, formulators, technologists, technician and administrators, doubling the existing workforce.

Finally, Total Lubrifiants is using a 'circular economy' model to launch a range of recycled hydraulic fluids for industrial use.  The firm’s new ECO2 offering is made from regenerated oil, reducing the environmental footprint of lubricant production.  Claire Michel, Product Manager at Total Lubrifiants, said: “Formulated using re-refined oils, our new range builds on recycling processes to produce a high-grade fluid with the same properties as standard fluids, but with a controlled environmental impact.”