The latest in lubricant solutions

Feb. 10, 2009
Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy reports on the latest lubricant solutions that address performance, safety, ecology, lubricity and simplicity.

How a lubricant is formulated or applied can enhance equipment and instrument performance. Using lubricants with release agents in conveyor assemblies and palletizers prevents sticking, reduces drag and improves flow. Putting lubricants in pipes reduces pressure drop. Applying lubricant coatings on air systems improves air flow, reduces friction and noise, and enables more power output. In heat exchangers, dry or solid lubricants enhance fluid flow and heat transfer, stop parts from sticking and reduce evaporator coil fouling.

Keith Kent, inventor of the Kiss-Cote family of Self-Bonding Polymers (KSBP), says the fastest and easiest way for companies to save money today is to apply a lubricant coating to the fan blades of air handlers, which reduces drag and maintenance, and reduces power consumption by as much as 4%.

Enhance safety and hygiene: Lubricants play an important role in ensuring health and safety. Teflon is a conventional nonstick polymer coating that has toxic properties, requires special handling and can’t be repaired or replaced easily. MegaGuard Ultra by Kiss Polymers is described as a safer alternative to Teflon. It’s based on polydimethylsiloxane, a silicon-based organic polymer, and modified through a patented process so that it bonds to the surface, doesn’t migrate or transfer onto untreated parts, and has a long life. The KSBP silicone polymer was developed for biomedical uses, including artificial skin replacement, and later expanded into industrial applications. Grime, mold and dirt can be wiped from the surface, and it resists bacterial and fungal growth.

Hygiene requirements for lubricants that can come into incidental contact with products and packaging during manufacture and processing are covered under ISO 21469. The voluntary standard involves independent verification of food-grade lubricant manufacturing processes and product formulations as a means to increase food safety. Shell Lubricants was the first to be awarded the standard and its certified products are available globally. Synthetic lubrication company Summit Industrial Products) was the first North American company to receive certification to this standard.

Reduce environmental effects: Unfortunately, many lubricants are bad for the environment and their disposal must be controlled carefully. Selecting long-life lubricants that don’t migrate allows you to change lubricants less often and dispose of fewer petroleum byproducts. For instance, Amsoil synthetic motor oils are designed for extended drain intervals. Because fewer oil changes are required, the amount of oil used is substantially reduced.

Reducing energy consumption is another high priority because of price and long-term availability concerns. Shell’s new hydraulic oil lubricant Tellus EE has been demonstrated to reduce hydraulic machinery energy consumption by as much as 8%. The lubricant contains a patented additive technology specifically designed to improve energy efficiency. The base oil and additive have the viscosity, density and low-friction properties necessary to transmit hydraulic power with high efficiency.

Kiss Polymers’ products reduce fuel consumption when added to engine fuels and lubricants, or when used to coat air intake, exhaust and filter materials. The products are nonreactive and ecologically stable.

Increase lubricity: Additives can enhance the lubricating properties of oils and greases significantly. FOREMOST, a 31-member European consortium, developed a lubricant coating based on inorganic fullerene-like nanoparticles using technology from the research arm of ApNano Materials. Fullerenes are nested spherical structures that lubricate engine and machine parts by rolling like miniature ball bearings. FOREMOST’s coating greatly reduces wear and friction, reduces emissions, maintenance and costs, and extends the coated equipment’s operational life.

When machining smaller parts, the role of lubricants becomes even more critical. The miniaturization trend is driving further study of interfacial phenomena, including interactions at the molecular, atomic and sub-atomic levels. Kiss Polymer’s new generation of mono-molecular coatings and additives are based on actions at or smaller than the ranges of nanotechnology.

Simplify application: User-friendly lubricant formulations are making life easier for maintenance personnel. “Today’s gels and liquids are easier to spread. They can be sprayed, painted or wiped on, and one coat can be applied instead of two. The new generation blends easier, lasts longer and improves lubricity, without the technique sensitivities common to most other polymers,” Kent says.

E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, managing director of Additive Communications, at [email protected].

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