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Environment-friendly multifunctional grease based on regrowing resources and advanced thickener technology to apply in loss lubrication earth-moving equipment

Oils and greases used in total loss, dry lubrication systems, such as those applied in earth moving equipment, are some of the products in which utilisation of biological resources, market requirements and economic, social and environmental benefits are best involved if a natural-based grease is used. The purpose of this project is to develop and test these natural, oil-based greases to be used in earth moving equipment. It will lead to the increase of production and exploitation of biological materials for a non-food use for which market demand has opened, due to the high level of public awareness of environmental issues, and also because of the large quantity of the product used (25 000 tonnes/year in Europe).

The main objective of the project is to increase the utilisation of natural oils in non-food applications by using them as bases for newly formulated, environment-friendly greases to be used in earth moving equipment. This objective presents other specific objectives:
1) the introduction on the market of a new bio-based, environment-friendly product, which will offer diversified products to lubricant and grease end users and consumers
2) it will contribute to the care of the environment, to promote agricultural production systems related to the modification of sunflower oil to increase oleic acid proportion and palmitoleic proportion
3) it will extend the utilisation of these greases to other applications and make savings in maintenance costs and consumption.

Progress to Date
An extensive laboratory study has been carried out analysing the two reference greases and different new formulations. Friction, wear, corrosion, compatibility with seals, biodegradability, ecotoxicity, low temperature performance and oxidation stability tests have been done.
The biogrease has been formulated at a laboratory level and the first trials using earth moving machines have been carried out. The formulation of the biogrease will be further developed in order to improve the friction and wear properties, especially when applying at bushing/pin contact of the earth moving machines. The grease is able to support low temperatures despite being formulated with a content of sunflower oil, giving an important benefit because of its renewable nature. The biodegradability of the biogrease is high and its ecotoxicological characteristics have been proved showing it is not harmful to aquatic organisms.

A biogrease was formulated based on high oleic sunflower oil and a polymeric thickener. Its behaviour was tested at a lab level and in gear and bushing/pin applications to use in the earth moving equipment as a multifunctional lubricant. The behaviour of the biogrease for the gear application was similar to the two reference mineral greases, but the formulation had to be enhanced to be applied to bushing/pin contact. It is necessary to improve the anti-wear properties of the biogrease.


Scientist responsible for the project

OTAOLA 20 Box 44
20600 Eibar
Spain - ES

Phone: +34 943206744
Fax: +34 943202757


Project ID QLRT-2000-00611
Area 5.2
Start date 01 January 2001
Duration (months) 48
Total cost 2 274 075 €
Total EC contribution   856 000 €
Status Ongoing

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