Researchers have developed an environmentally friendly, biodegradable lubricant based on castor oil and cellulose derivatives.
The new grease, which does not contain any of the pollutants that traditional petroleum and synthetic lubricants have, may lighten the toxic load from manufacturing and industry on our water and soil.
“These new formulations are an alternative to traditional lubricating greases, which create pollution that is difficult to combat once discharged into the environment.” – José María Franco, University of Huelva, co-author of the study
The new lubricant is called an “oleogel”, and with their discovery, the scientists proved that greases based on cellulose derivatives are not only environmentally friendly, but are also easier to process and require simpler technology to manufacture than conventional greases.
The new lubricant “has a similar level of mechanical stability to that of traditional greases, and it is highly temperature resistant”, but the scientists admit that more research is needed to overcome the issue of grease being expelled “when subjected to large inertial forces at high temperatures”.
Industrial lubricants made from petroleum derivatives and synthetic oils are discharged into the environment in large quantities each year, contaminating groundwater and soil, and are not biodegradable. The use of mineral oil in lubricant formulas has lessened some effects of that pollution, but the thickeners used in grease include metallic soaps or polyurea derivatives, which are still highly pollutant in nature.
The research, Development of new green lubricating grease formulations based on cellulosic derivatives and castor oil, was published in Green Chemistry.
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