The increasing awareness of the influence of industrial companies on the environment has sparked the formulation and use of biodegradable hydraulic oil in an effort to reduce environmental impact. Synthetic and petroleum-based hydraulic oils have been established to have a poor rate of degradation. Stringent environmental regulations have forced construction equipment manufacturers to seek renewable solutions.
It is a fully formulated readily biodegradable, anti-wear, ecologically responsive, environmentally friendly, non-toxic fluid that is commonly used in high pressure construction, industrial, marine, turbines, mobile hydraulic systems and circulating oil systems that operated in environmentally sensitive areas. It is inherently designed to make work easier by reducing friction between the moving, rotating or sliding parts. This ensures the productivity goals are met.
There are a number of desirable characteristics associated with these oils. Their excellent thermal and oxidative properties give them an edge over petroleum based products. They have better performance due to their low volatility, excellent lubricity, high flash points, low toxicity and high viscosity indices. The chemical additives used to manufacture then are non-toxic and therefore harmless to the environment.
It is designed with special lubricating and anti-corrosion properties to ensure the components of the hydraulic systems are well protected to ensure they are operational for a long period of time. The most dreaded causes of wear and tear in machines are friction and corrosion. When these effects are minimized the life of industrial assets is significantly prolonged. Furthermore, reducing friction ensures the energy used per each work cycle is minimized bringing down the operational coats.
These oils have emerged as a result of the increasing demand for renewable solutions. These oils biodegrade when subjected to water, sunlight and microbial activity. There are those that contain foam inhibitors to ensure smooth operation and anti-oxidants to prolong the life of the oil. They are hydrolytically stable and are therefore suitable for use in areas where water contamination is a major concern.
In general, the clean-up process of these oils is less expensive. Larger spills are cleaned by removing the soil and monitoring it until digestion is complete. It is then moved to various areas where it is re-used or moved to landfills depending on the specified environmental regulations.
Biodegradable products and oils vary and it is therefore advisable to compare their specific characteristics when making purchases. These include biodegradability, viscosity index and oxidation stability. They can be readily or inherently biodegradable which indicates the rate and completion of the degradation process. The market provides both high quality oils as well as poorly formulated ones that yield poor results.
The conversion to biodegradable hydraulic oil presents no problems since it is compatible with petroleum oils. However, it is advisable to flush out the existing petroleum oil by running the bio-oil through the hydraulic system before filling it with the required one. Any residuals can be left in the system without causing any complication. The recommended shelf life is approximately one year. Using a long lasting fluid helps to minimize the volume of used oil waste. This in turn helps to reduce the impact on the environment.
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