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Many of the lubricants used in the world today, by virtue of being petroleum based, have been classified as being of environmental concern. In the past, large quantities of industrial lubricants have been irresponsibly disposed of into the environment or released accidentally, which is a matter of serious environmental concern requiring immediate attention.- By Donna Guinivan
In fact, there are two basic approaches for dealing with environmental safety with regards to lubricants. The first is to find ways to eliminate the disposal of lubricants into the environment. The second is to use environmentally safe products in environment-sensitive segments such as marine, oil & gas, fluid power, agriculture and mining.
This actuality shows that new lubricants, which are rapidly biodegradable and ecologically non-toxic, are being developed and marketed, which implies that a trend for the near future is born.
“The test facilities in Stuttgart are impressive and extremely well resourced.”
- By MARK REUTER,Material Development, Polymer Laboratory
Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants
In 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the VGP2013 (Vessel General Permit). This states that Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EALs) have to be used in all oil-to-sea interfaces, unless technically infeasible, on vessels over 79 feet operating in U.S. waters.
The use of Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants represents a new requirement that implies the proper identification of oil to sea interfaces, oils to be installed and corrective actions to be taken. As a part of the EPA VGP2013, non-compliance with the EAL requirements constitutes a permit violation which could result in high fines per violation.
Many of our customers support the goals of the EPA with respect to the use of EALs and expect the same from their suppliers and request Trelleborg Sealing Solutions to confirm that sealing materials are compatible with the EALs.
As a global manufacturer of seal and bearing products, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions aims to stay ahead of the different regulations and standards across the world.
Sealing in specific lubricants that are blended to meet environmental regulations for global marine applications can be challenging. That’s where the research and development resources of Trelleborg Sealing Solutions can ensure that integrity will be maintained and seal life maximized.
In order to support this, a series of significant investments into testing, materials and research have been made, ensuring that Trelleborg can support our customers effectively.
Identification of needs and testing facilities
Trelleborg Sealing Solutions constantly strives to improve customer involvement at the earliest stage of new R&D activities, with suppliers, institutes, experts and external researchers involved in the process as well.
Trelleborg Sealing Solutions has research and development centers at key points globally. For Europe, these reside in the Trelleborg Sealing Solutions head office in Stuttgart, Germany.
“The formulation of different lubricants varies. Changing lubricants within an application can cause an issue with the sealing materials used, therefore their compatibility must be validated,” says Mark Reuter, responsible for testing and analytics in the laboratory in Stuttgart. “As the make-up of lubricants is proprietary, the only way to ensure that sealing materials will maintain their integrity and provide the required life is to test them.
At Trelleborg, we believe that the benefits of our solutions stretch beyond functionality and business performance. Whenever possible they should also contribute to better sustainability. In fact, many of our solutions protect the environment and people, as well as infrastructure and other assets. This is what we call Blue Dimension™ – Solutions for Better Sustainability.