Upcoming Expo &
Technical Conference
847­-483-9950

Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EALs)

 Upcoming Conference Presentation

Situ Biosciences is Presenting “Formulation Challenges and Performance Testing for Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants

  • Tuesday, November 15th at 3:40pm; Session 5D
  • @ The STLE Tribology Frontiers Conference
  • Feel free to let us know if you’d like to have a meeting at the conference!

Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants: Solutions with a Multitude of Benefits

With growing concern for environmental health and sustainability, there has been increased regulatory scrutiny by regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and additional benefits from third party branding for non-traditional products.  As a result, a variety of Environmentally Acceptable Products have entered the market.

Products currently being introduced in the market at higher rates include Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EALs).  For oil to sea interfaces, those that experience operational discharge, stern tube leakage or accidental spills, know the costly time consuming processes that follow such an incident with traditional lubricants. These consequences can be reduced by using EALs, which are continuing the development for alternative blends away from traditional petroleum lubricants.  Other common EALs include Bar & Chain Oil, 2-cycle and 4-cycle Oils utilized for equipment including chain saws, lawn mowers and weed wackers.

The most common base oils used for environmentally acceptable lubricants include:

  • Vegetable Oils
  • Synthetic Esters
  • Polyalkalyene Glycols

For EALs, formulating the base oil, thickening agents and performance additives to certain performance characteristics, such as biodegradability, must be demonstrated through testing regulated by agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), European Union (EU) and other third party branding agencies.  According to the EPA, an EAL formulation should exhibit the following through laboratory testing (EPA.GOV):

Common methods that test for aquatic biodegradation include OECD 301, OECD 310OECD 306, and ASTM D5864. Properly formulated and soluble EALs may have no issues meeting the stringent requirements in standardized methods. However, physical and chemical properties like solubility can effect biodegradation testing and lubricants may require pre-test modifications, like a water accommodated fraction (WAF) analysis, to take into consideration low solubility.

For aquatic toxicology testing, OECD 201, 202 and 203 are commonly requested and regularly provide needed data on a lubricant’s aquatic toxicological effects. OECD 117 and 107 are commonly used for testing a lubricant’s bioaccumulation potential.

Developing a properly formulated EAL can save time and costs associated with accidents, reduce environmental impact and gain a competitive edge in the market.  The EPA promotes the use of EALs and requires them when feasible under the Vessel General Permit (VGP).

For more information on formulating and testing Environmentally acceptable lubricants, please contact our Environmental Test Laboratory at 847-483-9950 or info@situtest.com.