6

Environmental Lubricants

With concerns for protecting and preserving the environment in all aspects of our daily lives, it is only natural that as lubricant technology has advanced, so has the development of oils and greases that would be less detrimental to the environment if inadvertently spilled or leaked. Accelerating research and development in this area has also been driven by public demand, industry concerns, and governmental agencies to find better ways to protect the biological balance in nature, or at least to reduce the negative impact of spills or leakage of lubricants that do occur. Many names are used for the class of lubricants to address these concerns: environmentally friendly, environmentally acceptable, biodegradable, nontoxic, and others. For purposes of discussions in this chapter, we shall refer to this class of lubricants as environmentally aware (EA). Of primary interest in selection and use of this class of EA lubricants is defining and measuring the product attributes that could affect the environment. In addition, the lubricants must provide performance in key areas such as oxidation stability, viscosity–temperature properties, wear protection, friction reduction, rust and corrosion protection, and hydrolytic stability where water or moisture may be present. In other words, the EA products must perform at levels equivalent to those achieved by conventional mineralor synthetic-based lubricants in the equipment, while providing characteristics that reduce the negative impact in the event of inadvertent introduction into the environment. I. ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS Environmental acceptability of lubricants is not well defined and can encompass a broad range of potential environmental benefits: use of renewable resources, resource conservation, pollutant source reduction, recycling, reclamation, disposability, degradability, and so on. Therefore, any claim of environmental acceptability must be supported by appropriate technical documentation. Most petroleum-based lubricants can be considered to be environmentally acceptable by various standards. For example, long-life synthetics (discussed in Chapter 5) and other lubricants that provide extended oil drain capability might be

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classed as EA materials because they conserve resources and aid in potential pollutant source reduction (since quantities for disposal will be lower). Many oils can be reclaimed, recycled, or burned for their heat energy value, again resulting in conservation of resources. All these efforts to help reduce the environmental impact of lubricants have positive effects and should be an integral part of the planning to establish an environmental program. The remainder of this chapter is devoted to discussions of a class of lubricants exhibiting specific characteristics such as biodegradability and low toxicity.

II. DEFINITIONS AND TEST PROCEDURES The two environmental characteristics most desirable in EA lubricants are speed at which the products will biodegrade if introduced into nature and toxicity characteristics that might affect bacteria or aquatic life. Most lubricants are inherently biodegradable, which means that given enough time, they will biodegrade by natural processes. They will not persist in nature. In certain applications, however, much faster rates of biodegradation are desired. These are referred to as readily biodegradable products. All lubricants range in toxicity from low (sometimes called nontoxic) to relatively high. Toxicity has a direct effect on naturally occurring bacteria and aquatic life and therefore needs to be an important part of the development of EA lubricants. Unlike traditional lubricant development, where the predominant focus is on product performance in equipment, a major part of developing EA lubricants involves understanding and defining environmental test criteria and developing ways to assess the effects of new and used lubricants in actual applications where environmental sensitivity is an issue. Since both base fluids and additive systems impact the environmental characteristics, these tests must evaluate the ecotoxicity of base fluids, additives, and finished lubricants. A. Toxicity The impact of lubricants on the aquatic environment is evaluated by conducting acute aquatic toxicity studies with rainbow trout (a freshwater fish that is sensitive to environmental changes) or other aquatic life-forms that are sensitive to changes in their environment. Since oil is insoluble in water, the aquatic specimens are exposed under oil–water dispersion (mechanical dispersion) conditions to increasing concentrations of test materials up to a maximum concentration of 5000 ppm. This oil–water dispersion technique follows a modification of the procedure used by the British Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF). In the oil–water dispersion procedure, the test materials are added to aquaria equipped with a central cylinder-housed propeller system that provides mechanical agitation to continuously disperse the test material as fine droplets in the water column. The propeller is rotated to produce flow in the cylinder by drawing small quantities of water and test material from the surface into the top of the cylinder and expelling a suspension of oil droplets in water through apertures near the bottom of the cylinder. This procedure, which simulates physical dispersion by wave and current action, is used to evaluate the relative toxicity of lighter-than-water materials. The aquatic specimens are exposed to five concentrations of test material and a control (without test material) during each study. Toxicity is expressed as the concentration of test material in parts per million (wt/vol) required to kill 50% of the aquatic specimens after 96 hours of exposure (LC50 ).

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B. Biodegradability Two tests are most commonly used to assess the biodegradability of lubricants. The shake flask test* is used to determine ultimate biodegradability (conversion to CO2 ) of the test material. The second, the CEC (Coordinating European Council) test, is not as discriminating but is widely used in Europe for assessing the biodegradability of lubricants and was, in fact, specifically designed to evaluate the aerobic aquatic biodegradation potential of two-stroke-cycle engine oils. Both tests use a mineral salts mix for the growth medium, with the carbon substrate being supplied only by the test material. Both the shake flask and CEC tests use unacclimated sewage inoculum, which is typically obtained from a municipal wastewater treatment plant that has no industrial inputs. The shake flask test, in addition, utilizes a soil inoculum. The shake test flasks, closed with neoprene stoppers from which are suspended alkali traps, are placed on a rotary shaker and heavily shaken at 25 C. Periodically, over a 28day period, the flasks are removed and titrated to quantify the trapped CO2 . The medium is then sparged with air to maintain aerobic conditions, and the fresh traps are placed back in the flasks. Blank controls, which are run alongside the flasks containing the test material, have all components present in the test flasks except the test material. At each time point, the quantity of CO2 evolved from the blanks is subtracted from CO2 values in the test material flasks. A positive control containing a readily biodegradable material is also run to ensure inoculum viability. ASTM has issued a test for biodegradability to standardize testing for biodegradability of environmental type products. This test (ASTM D 5846) is a modified Sturm test and very similar to the shake flask test just described. It also measures CO2 evolution as the bacteria metabolizes the test material. The CEC test utilizes cotton-stoppered flasks and, as with the shake flask test, the flasks are placed on a rotary shaker table and heavily shaken at 25 C. At 0, 7, and 21 days, flasks are extracted with Freon 113 and the quantity of test material in each of the extracts is determined by infrared (IR) analysis at 2930 cm 1 (C—H stretch). The percent of material biodegraded after 7 and 21 days is determined by comparing the intensity of the IR absorbance in the test flask extracts, after each period of time, against zero time values and against values in the abiotic controls (HgCl2-poisoned). C. Environmental Criteria At the present time, there are no generally accepted worldwide regulations to define criteria for lubricants used in environmentally sensitive areas. There are products with limited applications such as those receiving the German Blue Angel Label for lubricants. A lubricant can carry a Blue Angel label if all major components meet OECD ready biodegradability criteria and all minor components are inherently biodegradable. Secondary criteria include a ban on specific hazardous materials, and lubricants must meet aquatic toxicity limits. Based on an evaluation of current legislation for new product registration by the European Inventory of Existing Commercial Chemical Substances (EINECS) and on marine transport requirements by Marpol, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), as well as a review of proposed labeling schemes, there is some consensus in industry for

* ‘‘Shake flask test’’ refers to either the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency test described in EPA 560/682-003 or the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation tests described in OECD 301.

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biodegradation and aquatic toxicity criteria for lubricants that will be used in environmentally sensitive areas. A product may be considered acceptable if it meets the following criteria: Aquatic toxicity 1000 ppm (50% min survival of rainbow trout) Ready biodegradability 60% conversion of test material carbon to CO2 in 28 days, using unacclimated inoculum in the shake flask or ASTM D 5846 test Aquatic toxicity and ready biodegradation studies were conducted on products formulated with mineral oils and non–mineral oil base stocks (Table 6.1). In general, the base stocks that comprise the major component of most lubricant formulations are nontoxic. The aquatic toxicity observed following exposure to the formulated products in Figure 6.1 is caused by one or more of the additives. Vegetable oils, such as Mobil EAL 224H, and a number of synthetic esters easily met the ready biodegradation criterion ( 60% conversion to CO2 in 28 days) and always had CEC test results exceeding 90% conversion after 21 days. None of the formulations tested containing mineral oil base stocks were able to meet the ready biodegradation criterion, although 42–49% of these materials were converted to CO2 in 28 days (Figure 6.1). This does not appear to be a significant difference from the 60% criterion, but in actual field conditions, it is a major difference. The polyglycol-based materials, although soluble in water, failed to meet the ready biodegradability criterion, with only 6–38% of the test material converted to CO2 in 28 days. The biodegradation of polyglycols is determined by the ratio of propylene oxide to ethylene oxide, with polyethylene glycols being more biodegradable. The average molecular weight of the material is also critical, with material under a molecular weight of 1000 being rapidly biodegraded. The rate and extent of biodegradation diminishes with increasing molecular weight. Some additional studies of the polyglycol materials is needed to further quantify biodegradation rates of these materials. Evaluations of the impact of base stocks used to formulate hydraulic oils, formulated conventional hydraulic oils and EA hydraulic fluids have been conducted to determine the various levels of aquatic toxicity that these materials may exhibit. The toxicity testing was done using the EPA 560/7-82-002 (for all intents and purposes, this is the same test as the OECD 203 1–12). The results of this study of base stocks and fully formulated hydraulic fluids, given in Figure 6.2, indicate that the toxicity of most lubricants is due to one or more of the additives in the formulation.

Table 6.1 Ecotoxicology Data for Select Hydraulic Fluids
Biodegradability (%)
Product base stock
Mineral oil Vegetable oil Synthetic ester Polyglycol

Trout LC50 (ppm)
389 to 5000 633 to 5000 5000 80 to 5000

Shake flask
42–48 72–80 55–84 6–38

CEC test
(Not tested) 90 90 (Not tested)

Sources: Shake Flask Test Measures Carbon Dioxide Evolution, EPA Method 560/6-82-003; CEC MethodCEC-L-33-T-82.

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Figure 6.1 Determining comparative biodegradability with the EPA 560/6-82-003 test method.

Figure 6.2 Comparison of toxicity characteristics of various lubricants.

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III. BASE MATERIALS One of the primary choices of base oils for EA lubricants today is vegetable oils. This is due to their good natural biodegradability and very low toxicity in combination with very good lubricity characteristics. These renewable resources also provide a cost advantage over other EA base materials such as synthetic base stocks. But, there are some performance limitations of the vegetable-based lubricants that have been and continue to be addressed. These characteristics are mainly high temperature oxidation stability, low temperature performance, viscosity limitations, and cost. Although less expensive than synthetic alternatives, vegetable-based products can cost several times as much as conventional mineralbased lubricants. Genetic engineering will provide improved performance in the future in areas of oxidation stability and low temperature performance by increasing the high oleic acid content as well as other by means of genetic alterations (branching). In most applications, the vegetable-based EA lubricants can be formulated to perform in all but the most severe equipment. It is important to note that not all vegetable-based EA lubricants will provide the same levels of performance. Vegetable-based oils derived from rapeseed plants, cotton seeds, soybean oil, sunflower seed oil, corn oil, palm oil, and peanut oils are frequently used materials, with rapeseed being the most common. Synthetic-based materials such as polyglycols (discussed earlier), polyol esters, pentaerithritol esters, and certain PAOs (see Chapter 5) are used to formulate the synthetic EA lubricants. Their advantages over vegetable-based EA lubricants are wider temperature range application, longer drain capability (oxidation stability), and excellent performance in systems with close-tolerance servo valves. Some of the more general performance characteristics of the various base materials can be discussed in the following categories. 1. Vegetable oils. The choices of correct processes to refine, bleach, and deodorize vegetable-based oils can yield very satisfactory base materials for the formulation of finished lubricants. This renewable resource provides excellent natural lubricity, low volatility, and good environmental characteristics. Weaknesses are in low temperature performance, hydrolytic stability, and oxidation stability in high temperature applications. These products are also currently limited to low viscosity (ISO 32–68) materials. Properly manufactured and formulated vegetable-based lubricants can equal conventional mineral oil based lubricants in performance in all but the most severe applications. 2. Polyalphaolefins (PAOs). As discussed in Chapter 5, PAOs provide a good option for formulating environmental lubricants. Their ready biodegradability in the lower viscosity range is good. They also provide excellent low and high temperature (oxidation stability) performance, good hydrolytic stability, and low volatility. Their disadvantages are in costs and lower rates of biodegradability rates as viscosities increase. To achieve the good characteristics of the PAOs in finished products, they are often blended with biodegradable synthetic esters to get both the performance and environmental characteristics desired. 3. Synthetic esters. Several materials based on synthetic esters exhibit good biodegradability as well as high levels of oxidation stability, low and high temperature performance, and good hydrolytic stability and seal swell performance. The synthetic esters will allow formulation of higher viscosity lubricants typically used in circulating systems and some gear oils.

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Table 6.2 Comparison of Fully Formulated EA Lubricants with Various Basesa
Properties
Viscosity temperature characteristics Low temperature properties Oxidation stability Compatibility with mineral oils Low volatility Varnish and paint compatibility Seal swell (NBR) Lubricating properties Hydrolytic stability Thermal stability Additive solubility

Mineral
Fair Poor Fair Exc Fair Exc Exc Good Exc Fair Exc

Vegetable
Good Poor Poor Exc Good VG Exc VG Poor Fair Exc

PAOs
Good VG VG Exc Exc Exc VG Good Exc Fair Fair

Diesters
Fair Good Good Good Exc Poor Fair VG Fair Good VG

Polyol esters
VG Good Good Fair Exc Poor Fair VG Fair Good VG

PAGs
VG Good Good Poor Good Poor Good Good VG Good Fair

a These ratings are generalizations. Specific manufacturers of products should be consulted for current data. Exc, excellent; VG, very good.

Table 6.2 shows a general comparison, against mineral oils, of some of the more common performance characteristics of fully formulated EA lubricants using the various base materials. Actual finished product performance could vary from these ratings as a result of technological advancements in such areas as additive technology, use of blends of base materials, and manufacturing processes. As a result of the higher costs, EA lubricants will typically be used in areas where environmental sensitivity is an issue. In many instances of spillage or leakage that are reportable to governmental agencies such as the U.S. National Response Center, the added costs of EA lubricants may be offset by the potential for lower fines and remediation costs. EA lubricants are not meant for use in all applications but only when their use can be economically justified or the environmental sensitivity issues are of prime importance. In many cases, economic justification of the EA lubricants based solely on equipment performance is not sufficient to merit their use. The economics must be derived from reducing costs of remediation in the event of spills or leakage. Also, in some localities, limited legislation or regulations promote or require the use of such products. Environmental sensitivity issues prevail in the following specific areas. Dredging operations for waterways Operation of equipment for dams and locks Offshore drilling Marine equipment Recreation and parks Construction sites on or near water or groundwater systems Agricultural operations Forestry and logging Mining Automotive service lifts Hydraulic elevators

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A. Product Availability and Performance Because of the large volumes of hydraulic fluids used around the world and the tendency of these products to leak under conditions of relatively high pressures and severity of some applications, the first category of EA fluids to be developed and widely marketed were hydraulic oils. Once readily biodegradable base oils and low toxicity additive systems had been identified, the next hurdle was to provide fully formulated oils that exhibited required equipment performance as established by the builders of equipment as well as the users. Equipment builders have received many requests to approve the use of EA lubricants by their customers and need to be assured that the EA products will perform satisfactorily in their equipment and meet the service life requirements of the customers. Certain EA lubricants are formulated not only to meet the environmental criteria but also to provide performance equal to that of conventional mineral based lubricants. Much of the performance in hydraulic systems is determined by industry standard pump tests. We list three common tests. 1. Vickers V-104C Pump Test (ASTM D 2882). A rapeseed-based EA antiwear hydraulic fluid provided little or no pump wear in the ASTM D 2882 pump test. In addition to the standard 100 h dry test, a more severe 200 h test was undertaken in which 1% water was added at 0 and 100 hs. Because water contamination affects some EA fluids with poor hydrolytic stability, this 200 h test simulates wet systems and evaluates the oil as it degrades at accelerated rates or loses pump wear protection in the presence of water. Test results (Table 6.3) indicate low cumulative wear as well as good viscosity control and low total acid number (TAN) increase. Fluid characteristics did not change appreciably and wear protection was excellent, even in the presence of high moisture levels. 2. Vickers 35VQ pump test. This severe industry-accepted antiwear vane pump test is based on the Vickers 35VQ25 vane pump run at 3000 psi and 200 F. Standard procedures require that the same fluid be subjected to three successive 50 h test runs, and total ring and vane wear be less than 90 mg for each run. The tests (Table 6.4) showed low wear and good pump component appearance at the end of five successive 50 h pump test inspections. While fluid color darkened rapidly, increases in viscosity and TAN were small.

Table 6.3 Extended ‘‘Wet’’ Vickers 104C Vane Pump Test Results with Mobil EAL 224H
Vegetable-Based Oil
Test hours
Properties
Viscosity, cSt at 40 C (ASTM D 445-3) Total acid number (ASTM D 664) Water addition Cumulative wear (vanes and ring) Test conditions Duration: Temperature: Pressure:

New oil
35.4 0.92 1% —

100
35.1 0.97 1% 16 mg

200
35.6 1.14 25 mg

200; 1% water added at 0 and 100 test h; wear measured at 100 and 200 h 150 F 2000 psi

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Table 6.4 Vickers 35VQ Vane Pump Test Results with Mobil EAL 224H
Normal test
Properties
Viscosity cSt at 40 C (ASTM D 445-3) Total acid number (ASTM D 664) Color (ASTM D 1500) Total wear (vanes and ring) Test conditions Duration: Temperature: Pressure:

Extended test
Third run
35.8 1.29 6.0 56 mg

New oil
35.0 1.03 1.5 —

First run
35.3 1.27 3.5 10 mg

Second run
35.6 1.27 4.5 3 mg

Fourth run
36.2 1.18 7.5 3 mg

Fifth run
36.6 1.32 7.5 32 mg

50 h and a new cartridge per run 200 F 3000 psi

3. Denison hydraulics HF-0 test. Another industry-accepted pump test is the Denison HF-0 axial piston pump test, which evaluates multimetal compatibility of a fluid and corrosiveness to soft metals under severe operating conditions. The 100 h test uses a 46 series piston pump and is run at 160 F (71 C) for the first 60 h; the temperature is raised to 210 F (99 C) for the remaining 40 h. The 100 h test is run at a pressure of 5060 psi (340 bar). The pass/fail criterion for this pump test is based on physical inspection and measurement for distress, wear, and chemical etching on both the bronze bearing plate and the piston shoes. In addition to the axial piston pump test, part of meeting the HF-0 requires passing a 600 h (300 h dry/300 h wet) vane pump test (TP-30283A). Wear measurements and surface examination showed critical parts to be in good condition, and the pump manufacturer confirmed a passing result for the EA fluid. The results of these three relatively severe pump tests indicate that EA antiwear hydraulic fluids not only can be formulated to meet the biodegradability and toxicity requirements but can provide performance levels at least equal to conventional mineralbased antiwear hydraulic fluids in these tests. These test results have also been verified by years of field application experience. Again, some EA lubricants may or may not be equal in performance to conventional hydraulic fluids, and suppliers should be consulted for specific test results and examples of field performance. In addition to EA antiwear hydraulic fluids, several gear oils, some greases, engine oils, circulating oils, metalworking fluids, dust control oils, transmission fluids, and chain saw oils are available in readily biodegradable and low toxicity formulations. Table 6.5 shows one manufacturer’s partial line of EA lubricants, along with application information. B. Vegetable Oil Based EA Lubricant Performance Concerns As mentioned earlier, the potential performance concerns in vegetable-based lubricants relative to comparable premium mineral oil based lubricants are oxidation stability, low temperature performance, and hydrolytic stability. These are not significant as long as they are recognized and proper care is taken during selection, application, and operation.

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Table 6.5 EA Lubricants and Application Data
Product Description Application Benefits

Vegetable-based An ISO viscosity grade Primary application is for Provides good system hydraulic and 32/46 vegetable oilindustrial and mobile equipment performance while circulating oil based antiwear hydraulic systems operating at substantially reducing hydraulic oil that is temperatures of 0 F to 180 F. the negative impact on readily biodegradable Meets requirements of major the environment when and virtually hydraulic pump manufacturers inadvertently leaked or nontoxic spilled. Synthetic-based Ester-based, readily Primary application is for Provides excellent hydraulic and biodegradable, and hydraulic and circulation performance over a circulating oil virtually nontoxic systems operating in moderate wide temperature range antiwear hydraulic to severe applications such as while demonstrating and circulating oil. mobile equipment hydraulic excellent biodegradation Product available in systems where low and high and virtual nontoxicity. four ISO viscosity temperatures exceed the If inadvertently spilled grades: 32, 46, 68, limitations of vegetable-based or leaked, they and 100, all with EA oils. Recommended for a significantly reduce the excellent oxidation temperature range from 20 environmental impact stability and wide to 200 F. Owing to their high relative to mineral oils temperature range degree of antiwear and high and can help reduce or application capability FZG (12 stages), they can elimiante fines and the also be used in gear units not costs of remediation. requiring EP additives. Multipurpose Synthetic-based EP Designed for multipurpose Provides excellent grease NLGI #1 and #2 outdoor applications where lubrication grade greases grease leakage or run out could characteristics over a contaminate soil, groundwater, wide temperature range or surface water systems. They while reducing the can be used for indoor potential for negative applications where grease impact on the leakage could enter plant water environment. They are systems. They are compatible with most recommended for plain and other greases. rolling element bearings and couplings that operate at temperatures from 15 to 250 F.

In most of the other performance areas, the EA lubricants can be formulated to provide performance at least equal to that of the premium mineral oil based lubricants. 1. Oxidation Stability The conventional laboratory oxidation tests designed for turbine oils but often used for other oils [ASTM D2272 Rotary Bomb Oxidation Test (RBOT) and ASTM D943 Oxidation Characteristics of Turbine Oils (TOST)] yield poorer results for vegetable-based lubricants. These tests were designed for evaluating the oxidation characteristics of highly

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refined mineral oil based products with higher levels of oxidation inhibitors but overall low levels of other additives that could interfere with achieving high RBOT and TOST results. For example, there is poor correlation between high RBOT and TOST values and long-term performance of antiwear mineral oil based hydraulic oils. In fact, some premium quality hydraulic oils with lower RBOT and TOST values perform much better and provide longer service life than those with higher values. It is well recognized that vegetable oil base stocks do exhibit poorer oxidation stability. With proper processing and use of correct additives, however, the finished formulation can provide satisfactory performance in the majority of applications. Most manufacturers and suppliers of EA lubricants will provide application guidelines for application such as those shown in Table 6.5. 2. Low Temperature Performance The low temperature performance of vegetable oil based products will naturally be poorer than those that of lubricants based on highly refined mineral oil based products. Without the use of VI improvers and pour point depressants, paraffinic mineral oil based products also exhibit poor low temperature performance. Vegetable oils respond to VI improvers and pour point depressants by exhibiting substantially lower finished product pour points and low temperature fluidity. Pour points are less meaningful for vegetable oil based products than for lubricants based on mineral oils and should not be used as an indication of the lower use temperature for application. A more meaningful indication of low temperature performance of EA lubricants consists of the solidification point and low temperature pumpability. These better represent how the product performs under longer cold soak conditions. This information is important for outdoor applications such as mobile equipment, where fluids may be subjected to subzero temperatures for extended periods of time. If the application involves low temperatures, data on low temperature performance should be obtained from the supplier. 3. Hydrolytic Stability It is almost impossible to keep moisture out of most lubrication systems, and water can be detrimental to lubricant performance regardless of the base material used to formulate the lubricant. Vegetable oils, as well as all natural and synthetic esters, have poorer hydrolytic stability than comparable mineral oil based products. The proper formulation of EA products is the key to minimizing the potential for negative hydrolysis effects. Current studies of a specific EA fluid indicate that only severe water contamination ( 0.1% allowable limit for both conventional and EA fluids in critical systems) will adversely affect a lubricant’s performance because of hydrolysis or additive depletion. IV. PRODUCT SELECTION PROCESS Because of the many choices of available EA lubricants and the lack of clear and universally accepted guidelines to define environmental criteria, the selection process is more difficult than that used for selecting conventional non-EA products. Even so, many of the product performance aspects in actual equipment applications are essentially the same. The selection process needs to include the following aspects of product performance: Environmental acceptability Product physical specifications Equipment builder approvals Evidence of proven field performance

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Credibility of the supplier Operating and maintenance considerations The major difference lies in the first and last items in this list: environmental acceptability and operating and maintenance considerations. A. Environmental Acceptability The area of environmental acceptability itself encompasses the greatest difference in selecting EA lubricants versus selecting conventional mineral-based lubricants. Although most conventional lubricants are inherently biodegradable and can be low in toxicity, EA products need to meet more stringent requirements, as was discussed earlier in this chapter (see Section II: Definitions and Test Procedures). Again, some industry consensus has been established for environmental acceptability, but at present there are no universal industry/regulatory agency agreements on definitions and test procedures. This should not be a deterrent to the use of EA products, particularly in areas that are sensitive to spills or leakage of conventional lubricants. Where such spills have inadvertently occurred, EA lubricants have clearly demonstrated much less negative impact on the environment than would have been expected from the older formulations. Environmental performance requirements also must include the specification that a product not lose its environmental characteristics during its projected service life. B. Specifications A product that is going to be relied on in a given piece of equipment must exhibit certain physical and chemical characteristics that have been shown to be important to the performance of that equipment. The primary concern is to have adequate viscosity characteristics. Too low a viscosity could result in metal-to-metal contact and consequent wear. Too high a viscosity can result in improper flow or excessive internal shear, resulting in excessive heating and energy losses. Other characteristics would include compatibility, antiwear, oxidation stability (long life), rust and corrosion protection, filterability, and demulsibility. C. Equipment Builder Approvals Much of the initial thrust to develop an EA class of lubricants came from equipment builders whose customers were requesting guidance on such products. Chances are that if the equipment builders have approved the use of these products, they have satisfactorily tested the products or have test data showing that desired performance requirements are met. Also, builders have followed field applications to assure that the product not only meets laboratory test requirements but works in the equipment in question under field service conditions. In some cases, builders will grant conditional approvals only if they can limit temperatures and pressures and may in some cases derate equipment for which EA products must be used. This generally means lower service pressures, speeds, and/or temperatures. If the equipment is under warranty, the builders should be consulted before its use to ensure that the requirements of the warranty are met. D. Proven Field Performance Similar to selecting conventional lubricants, testimonials of customers who have used the products in equipment that represents a certain application, indicate that the products

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are likely to provide satisfactory performance. Since most major lubricant manufacturers conduct extensive laboratory testing as well (up to several years of field testing) even with the so-called new products, field application data should be available. E. Supplier Credibility A reputable supplier is important with conventional established lubricants but even more important when new technology is introduced. It is very important that suppliers support their products and recommendations. This provides an increased level of confidence that the new products will work, or at least that a new customer will not be handling problems alone. Reputable suppliers have generally performed adequate laboratory and field evaluations of their products prior to introduction so that chances of success are high. F. Operating and Maintenance Conditions Equipment reliability and service life are strongly influenced by operating conditions and maintenance practices regardless of the lubricant. This is especially true where EA lubricants are used. Three of the more important areas of operating conditions and maintenance practices involve control of temperatures, elimination of contamination, and good system maintenance. For example, one high quality vegetable-based hydraulic oil is recommended for temperatures higher than 0 F at start-up and less than 180 F for operations. Contamination should also be minimized to avoid loss of the environmental performance capability as well to assure long performance life. Maintenance practices should include regular inspections of the systems to correct any unsatisfactory conditions involving, for example, filtration, breathers, temperature control, pressure control, correct makeup oil, regular oil analysis, and oil/filter changes as required. V. CONVERTING TO EA LUBRICANTS In most cases, the EA lubricants will be compatible with the mineral oils, elastomers, and paints used in industrial and hydraulic systems designed for mineral oils. Some products such as polyglycols may not be compatible with mineral oils or paints. A primary requirement with any conversion is to determine the compatibility of the EA lubricant with all system components before making a conversion. Table 6.2 showed limited general compatibility information with mineral oils and selected elastomers, but additional data should be obtained from the manufacturer or supplier of the product. Equipment builders should also be asked to provide input on component materials if it is suspected that compatibility concerns may develop. Once compatibility issues are understood, it is recommended that all systems being converted to EA lubricants be drained, cleaned, and thoroughly flushed before the final charge of EA lubricant is added. This will help ensure that the environmental and performance characteristics are not jeopardized by excessive contamination with previously used non-EA lubricants or other contaminants. Even with new systems, it is important to clean and flush to remove materials such as rust preventives, assembly lubes, and sealants that may be in the system. These materials can negatively affect both the environmental and the physical performance characteristics of the EA lubricants. For example, preservative oils and assembly lubes can affect demulsibility, air separation, oxidation stability, and antiwear performance.

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The extent of cleaning and flushing is dependent on the system condition as well as the current product in service. If the system is dirty or contains deposits that have built up over time, it may be necessary to flush with a noncorrosive solvent mixed with a conventional mineral oil to remove the deposits. If this is required, care should be taken to install jumper lines across critical tolerance components such as electrohydraulic servovalves. This will reduce the potential for operational problems after start-up due to loosened debris getting into the close clearances. Where high detergent oils (engine oils) have been in service, more attention to flushing is recommended, particularly if vegetablebased EA lubricants will be used. This is due to potential reactions between the highly additized oils with the additive packages used to formulate the EA oils. As a general rule of thumb, no more than 3% of the previously used non-EA fluid should remain in the system when the final charge of the EA fluid is installed. There are relatively simple laboratory checks to determine whether this has been accomplished. One method is by determining the additive metals such as zinc, calcium, or phosphorus in the previous fluid and comparing these amounts to the additive metals in the final charge. Another way involves analyzing for aromatic content of the fluid except where severely hydrotreated or hydrocracked base stocks were used. Again, the supplier of the EA lubricant will be able to provide assistance in determining the success of the flushing and the degree of contamination in the final system fluid.

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