Technical terms such as biodegradable, bio-based, environment-friendly, recyclable, renewable, non-toxic, green, etc. are frequently used in the industry as well as in our daily lives. These terms are becoming a key sales tool and sales criteria for lubricant manufacturers and marketers like in all other sectors, and their importance is increasing day by day.
Production and use of environment-friendly lubricants is increasing in parallel with the rising environmental awareness, the increasing demand for environment-friendly products, and the developing environment-friendly product range. Plant-oil and animal-fat-based lubricants are preferred in mechanical systems as they are environment friendly and produced by farmers, some of the vegetable oils cannot be used in the food industry due to their harmful effects on human health, vegetable oils can be re-used as waste oil and they have high biodegradability in the nature.
Bio-based industrial products are getting more and more important in every part of our lives. Preferring environment-friendly bio-products is becoming an inevitable solution for more raitonal investments. A major part of industrial lubricants are spilled as used oil in our living areas intentionally or accidentally and disposed of irresponsibly. In the last years, this problem has turned into a critical environmental concern that requires immediate action. As the environmental consciousness is developing, practices that are harmful for the nature threaten the entire humanity, the concepts such as energy efficiency and sustainability are becoming prominent, and the importance and cost of recycling industrial waste is gaining ground; bio-based products are becoming inevitable and gaining more importance with advanced technology. In this case, recovery of waste oils can help eliminate environmental problems, and waste oils can be regained in the industrial economy by developing new lubricant solutions.
There are two main approaches in practice with regard to environmental safety linked with lubricants. The first one is the effort to develop alternative solutions to prevent disposing of lubricating products in the nature. The second one is the preference of the use of environmentally safe products in environmental-friendly applications such as agriculture, forestry, municipalities, mining, maritime, freshwater bodies, etc.
Vegetable oils are triglycerides that have different degrees of unsaturation and fatty acids with different straight long chain molecule structures. These fatty acids have very weak thermos-oxidative stability. There are two practical ways to improve this negative characteristic. The first one is the chemical modification of triglyceride molecules in order to develop their thermal stability and mechanical characteristics. The second one is the improvement of the lubricant’s performance by means of additives. As is known, certain additives can be added to finished products with the aim of improving and extending its performance in accordance with the environment that the lubricant will be used. It is obvious that using multi-functional additives in plant-oil-based lubricants or their derivatives offers a high potential for opening up new research horizons in lubricant technology.
Lastly; adhesive lubricants used in two-stroke engines (motorcycle engines, boat engines, engines that are used in various agricultural machinery, etc.), blade chains in chainsaws and trimming machines, conveyors, conduction and lifting machines; chain lubricants used in construction, mining equipment and marine vessels; lubricants used in railroad rails and construction concrete molds; greases for agriculture, construction and various open system production machines; rope and pulley lubricants; lubricants in hydraulic and pneumatic systems; processing and cutting lubricants used in machine tools can be given as examples for the fields of application of environment-friendly plant-oil-based lubricants.