Bio-lubricants can offer more advanced lubricant technology than petroleum-derived alternatives, according to experts speaking at Riviera’s Bio-lubricants for marine vessels and auxiliary equipment: a better return on investment webinar
The webinar was sponsored by Gazprom Neft’s marine lubricants division, Gazpromneft Ocean, which in 2017 launched a product portfolio that includes 15 cutting-edge branded lubricants, for use on vessels including icebreakers, tankers, bulk cargo ships, container vessels, ferries and cruise ships.
Examining how the correct selection of lubricant can increase return on investment were Biosynthetic Technologies chief executive Mark Miller; Croda Europe market applications specialist - energy technologies, Kevin Duncan; Gulf Oil Marine technical director Don Gregory; and RSC Bio Solutions strategic account representative Ian Nielsen.
One of the aims of the webinar was to educate the audience on the range of environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs) – often lumped into one category. In a survey, only 17% felt they were very familiar with EALs. One third were barely familiar or totally unfamiliar with the performance characteristics of different synthetic lubricants and the remainder only somewhat familiar.
Mr Duncan noted there are mandatory drivers for change in the industry and Croda is working to develop base fluids to fulfil this need.
The regulatory requirement to adopt EALs, mentioned by Mr Duncan, was the biggest driver noted by half those taking part in a survey, surpassing extended drain interval (24%), environmental considerations (15%) and only applicable product (11%).
Mr Duncan also observed that EALs are required to be biodegradable, have minimum eco-toxicity, non-bioaccumulating, and be bio-sourced. However, the bio-sourced element is not mandatory.
“EALs are a viable and effective option for marine lubrication,” he said, “not all EALs are the same. Picking the right oil with high film-forming properties, good oxidation stability and hydrolytic stability will eliminate engineering issues, reduce oil degradation and minimise the risk of equipment failure.”
Mr Nielsen represented the next stage in the value chain, as a formulator and seller of lubricants. “All of our products are EALs,” he said. “Not all EALS are the same: you have to tailor them for specific uses.” For some applications, RSC Bio Solutions offers a 10-year warranty.
Mr Gregory focused on some of practical aspects of using EALs. “Chemically engineered fluids, used in certain applications, could and do impart some specialist performance features,” he said, ”These features can make a synthetic lubricant the only suitable product.”
He warned that in some respects, EALs is a misleading concept. “Any fluid released in sufficient quantities will do some degree of harm,” he said, “Therefore, the best policy for sustainability is containment and proper and safe disposal.”
Delegates were asked whether sustainability is a driving force. Only 15% named sustainability as the number one determinant: cost ranked second (41%) but sustainability was a top three consideration for most (44%).
Represending synthetic oil manufacturers, Mr Miller said “The industry is significantly smarter and some of the fears should be allayed. We have high performance fluids that have been proven in the field for a long time.”
Nonetheless, there is a reluctance to adopt EALs and bio-lubricants. In a survey, cost (35%) and performance and durability concerns (39%), were major reasons for the slow take-up. Availability worried some (15%) and confusion of which type to adapt (11%).
“As EALs evolve, there have been new developments. Biosynthetic Technologies has an ester-like product, which we believe has solved some of the weaknesses of oxidated and hydrolytic stability and are perfectly suited for maritime applications,” said Mr Miller.
The webinar went a long way to clearing up some of the concerns and misconceptions surrounding EALs and in the final poll, 98% agreed that not all EALs are same.
From left to right: Mark Miller (Biosynthetic Technologies), Kevin Duncan (Croda Europe), Don Gregory (Gulf Oil Marine), Ian Nielsen (RSC Bio Solutions)