Over the past two decades, there has been an increased awareness of the environmental impact that the large amount of lubricants entering the environment is having. These environmental contaminants come as the result of leakage, throw-off, emissions, spillage and careless disposal of mainly mineral oil based products. In 1999, the U. S. Corps of Engineers coined the term “Environmentally Acceptable Fluids” as those that were readily biodegradable and nontoxic to marine organisms.
1. Sundin Phd., SVB Environmental Lubricants, in his article Sorting out environmentally acceptable fluids, touts the fact that EAFs are gaining in popularity in a variety of applications where the risk to the environment must be minimised. Although they’ve been used in drilling operations for years, mining, forestry, construction, agriculture and municipal services are now turning to EAFs to stay ahead of changing regulations and meet the expectations of stakeholders.
The responsible use of lubricants has become an ongoing responsibility of those who work in industries utilising hydraulic power.
2. Marougy, Lubricant Specialist reports that Governments around the world have enacted regulations aimed at protecting the environment, and they usually carry significant fines and remediation costs for violators. That’s become increasingly important to designers and users of hydraulically powered equipment, especially when operating in wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas.
Some countries in Europe have even restricted the use of non-environmental friendly products and encouraged so-called biodegradable products in sensitive applications
While hydraulic hose and connectors perform better than ever, they still have the potential to leak or rupture and spill fluid. Fluid suppliers have responded by introducing eco-friendly biodegradable and nontoxic fluids based on a variety of chemistries. Unfortunately, none of these fluids is a direct replacement for petroleum-based hydraulic fluid.
Although the term biodegradable has become widely used and accepted as a description of the property required for these ecologically friendly fluids, it is not sufficient criterion for complete environmental acceptability.
Other important considerations include:
– Biodegradability or persistence in the environment
– Bioaccumulation potential
– Toxicity in the air, ground and water
– The nature of the emissions
– Whether or not the source is renewable.
Sundin notes that early generations of biodegradable hydraulic oils were often blends of lower-quality vegetable oils mixed with additives that were developed for petroleum-based oils. These additives often contained compounds that hindered the oil’s natural biodegradability. The result was a hydraulic fluid with poor performance at low temperatures, a short service life, and environmental characteristics that were only marginally better than those of the less-expensive petroleum product that it was replacing.
Now, thanks to advances in base oils and additives, EAFs are bringing much more to the table. New synthetic oils are highly biodegradable and can be used at temperature extremes. Selective breeding and genetic modification have resulted in vegetable seed oils with the same service life as mineral oils. The development of new anti-wear compounds has allowed additive manufacturers to develop products with extremely low toxicity and high biodegradability. These new, nontoxic additives have the same performance as older additives that contain zinc.
Various performance characteristics of the different classes of environmental fluids and where each should be utilised.
Based on the extensive findings from Fluid Power, we can conclude that bio-polyolefin synthetic biodegradable oils perform best in offshore fluid power industry applications, whereas the other three types of fluids are too weak to perform well in these very specific applications.
Marougy advises that all hydraulic fluids, not just biodegradable fluids, must be maintained in good condition. Additives may degrade depending on the fluid condition. Operating a fluid at too high a temperature shortens its life, and the presence of contaminants such as water and particulates can promote oxidation and also shorten the life of the fluid. No fluid is maintenance-free.
While actual life depends on the duty cycle and countless other factors, properly formulated and maintained fluid that’s not exposed to extreme temperatures and contamination will give good life in a wide range of applications. Perhaps the most important system consideration is to maintain the fluid in excellent condition and monitor it frequently to ensure it performs as intended in the hydraulic circuit.
Industrial workplaces are demanding environments for machinery. System failures lead to downtime and higher operational costs Fluid Line reports. Flushing is an important maintenance procedure to prolong life and reliability of hydraulic systems. Thorough system flushing is necessary, and it is often advisable to perform multiple flushes to ensure the system is perfectly clean before adding environmentally friendly fluid.
Mobil, the major American oil company findings show that demand for biodegradable hydraulic oils is expected to increase in the next 10 years. Ever-increasing expectations are put on the performance of any modern hydraulic oil, whether synthetic, conventional mineral or biodegradable.
Although chemically based hydraulic fluids are likely to remain the product of choice for some years as EAFs become a more viable option. More companies are choosing to drive green initiatives and come into line with society’s sentiment as well as government guidelines of reducing the environmental footprint of human activities.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.
Consumers Investing in Eco-Friendly Cars with the UK Green Revolution
The UK public appears to be embracing the electric car UK Green Revolution, as recent statistics reveal that more and more consumers are making the switch from petrol and diesel to electric or alternatively fuelled vehicles. The demand for diesel fell by almost a third in October compared to last year, whilst hybrid and electric cars rose by a staggering 36.9%.
Time for UK Green Revolution Change
So, what is the reason for this sudden change? This comes down to the current situation in the UK, which has led to people embracing eco-friendly technologies and automobiles. One of the main reasons is the Government’s clean air plans, which includes the impending 2040 ban on petrol and diesel automobiles. There is then the rollout of the T-Charge in London, the city of Oxford announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel from the city centre by 2020 and various other big announcements which take up a lot of space and time in the UK press.
In addition to this, the negative publicity against diesel has had a huge impact on the UK public. This has led to a lot of confusion over emissions, but actually, the newest low emission diesel automobiles will not face restrictions and are not as bad to drive as many believe. Most notably, German brand Volkswagen has been affected due to the emissions scandal in recent times. It was discovered that some emissions controls for VW’s turbocharged direct injection diesel engines were only activated during laboratory testing, so these automobiles were emitting 40 times more NO in real-world driving. As a result of this and all the negative publicity, the manufacturer has made adaptations and amended their vehicles in Europe. Additionally, they have made movements to improve the emissions from their cars, meaning that they are now one of the cleaner manufacturers. Their impressive range includes the Polo, Golf and Up, all of which can be found for affordable prices from places like Unbeatable Car.
The Current Market
The confusion over the Government’s current stance on diesel has clearly had a huge impact on the public. So much so that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on the Government to use the Autumn Budget to restore stability in the market and encourage the public to invest in the latest low emission automobiles. SMMT believes that this is the fastest and most effective way to address the serious air quality concerns in this country.
One way that the Government has encouraged the public to make the switch is by making incentives. Motorists can benefit from a grant when they purchase a new plug-in vehicle, plus there are benefits like no road tax for electric vehicles and no congestion charge. When these are combined with the low running costs, it makes owning an electric automobile an appealing prospect and especially because there are so many great models available and a type to suit every motorist. One of the main reasons holding motorists back is the perceived lack of charging points. However, there are currently over 13,000 up and down the country with this number rapidly increasing each month. It is thought that the amount of charging points will outnumber petrol stations by 2020, so it is easy to see more and more motorists start to invest in electric cars way ahead of the 2040 ban.
It is an interesting time in the UK as people are now embracing the electric car revolution. The Government’s clean air plans seem to have accelerated this revolution, plus the poor publicity that diesel has received has only strengthened the case for making the switch sooner rather than later.