ECOLOGICALLY COMPATIBLE LUBRICANTS
Thermal-Lube’s growing line of XL-9000 series of EcoSynthetic®,
BioSynthetic®, and BioNatural® lubricants
are products fully formulated to exacting specifications with carefully selected
components that are each categorized as “environmentally compatible”, and
conducive to definite applications.
The ecological impact analysis of the entire life cycle of each individual
component has been addressed and applied to the overall effect that each
formulated lubricant from this series will have on the environment.
The overall toxicological potential of the XL-9000 series
of lubricants is evaluated by addressing the intrinsic toxicity of the material
itself and understanding the magnitude of exposure
to the ecosystem. Only when these two parameters are evaluated together
with the final degradation analysis,
can the total ecological impact of the lubricant be ranked.
A toxic lubricant may not pose a threat to the environment if the exposure is
minimized or eliminated. On the other hand, a lubricant that is relatively
non-toxic may be an environmental concern if large amounts are exposed to a
related to exposure (or dose). This is generally determined by the amount of
a material in air or water to kill 50% of an organism population within a
pre-designated time period [LC50 (Lethal
Concentration)]. With direct oral and/or dermal doses to a particular species,
this value is referred to as the LD50 (Lethal
Dose to kill 50% of the species).
greater than 100 ppm, LD50 oral
values greater than 2000 mg/Kg body weight, and LD50 dermal
values greater than 5000 mg/Kg body weight are generally considered non-toxic.
correlated to the bioaccumulation potential (concentration of chemicals
from water or food into living organisms). This is determined by the degree of
uptake, distribution, metabolism, and elimination of a substance within a living
A material that is taken up and widely distributed, but metabolised and
eliminated, will not bioaccumulate. Similarly, a material that is not taken
up cannot bioaccumulate. However, bioaccumulation will occur when some
highly lipid-soluble materials will be taken up and stored in fats (lipids).
In aquatic species, most bioaccumulation occurs via direct uptake from water
rather than from food source. The ratio expressed by the concentration in an
organism to the concentration in water is called the BCF or bioconcentration
This BCF is linearly related to the lipophilicity in aquatic species. Its
physicochemical parameter (log P) can be simulated without actual laboratory
experimentation by measuring and calculating the ratio of a component as it
partitions into and out of octanol and water. Generally, the higher the log P,
the greater the likelihood of bioconcentration.
Until recently, regulatory bodies had categorized all materials with a log P < 3
as non-bioaccumulators. It is now realized that log P values > 6 are also
non-bioaccumulators. This is due to the absorption of highly lipophillic
substances onto the organic fractions of sediments, and lack of absorbtion of
hydrophobic materials across fish gills because of their very low water
solubility, and relatively high molecular weights.
Final biodegradation of
a lubricant is the last criterion to be assessed. Degradation may override many
harmful characteristics such as toxicity and bioaccumulation.
A lubricant that degrades may not be an ecological threat even though the
material is toxic and/or bioaccumulates. Final degradation may occur by
hydrolysis, photolysis, and biodegradation.
Determining biodegradation tendencies of a lubricant is difficult because of its
hydrophobic nature. The test method being developed and used as of this writing
is the CEC L-33-T-82 test. This measures the oxygen consumption or carbon
dioxide production in a closed aqueous (inoculum) system for 28 days.
Materials analyzed by this test method can be categorized as readily,
inherently, or relatively biodegradable as compared to mineral oils. Readily
biodegradable lubricants will degrade a minimum of 60% in 28 days. Inherently
and relatively biodegradable lubricants will degrade over 15% in 28 days. What
this actually means is that inherently and readily biodegradable lubricant
products will degrade, but over a longer period of time.
In many industrial applications where lubricants are subjected to harsh or
outdoor conditions, and long lubricant life is expected, or where lubricant
leakage, environmental contamination, and toxicity pose ecological problems,
readily biodegradable lubricants would be the desirable choice. Thermal-Lube’s XL-9000
BioSynthetic® and BioNatural® series
of lubricant products are all non-toxic, non-bioaccumulator, and readily
For continuous real-time FTIR analytical monitoring and automatic additive
dosing of lubrication systems, please inquire about Thermal-Lube’s COAT® system.
and BioNatural® are
Registered Trademarks of Thermal-Lube Inc.
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