In today’s marketplace, the term “biodegradable” has become a buzz word across many different industries. In many cases, project requirements demand the use of biodegradable materials including lubricants for machines and devices, particularly within applications in environmentally sensitive areas such as forests, beaches, waterways, and other sensitive ecosystems. Other times, the word is used as a way for companies to show that their brand exercises environmental consciousness to differentiate themselves from the rest of the market.

Bio-based lubricants such as those in BioBlend’s family of products, have been increasing in popularity since the 1990s. But, since BioBlend started in business in 2001 through today, the demand is stronger than ever because of the benefits these products provide. According to STLE (the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers), “the advantages of biobased lubricants include biodegradability, superior lubricity, higher flash/fire points, high VI (viscosity index), basestock renewability and domestic agricultural support.”

But, what is a “biodegradable lubricant,” and why does it matter whether your organization uses one in your projects’ or operations’ resources?

Biodegradability Defined

Biodegradability is the quality of a substance that is affected by the process of chemical breakdown, degradation or transformation of a material caused by organisms or their enzymes into carbon dioxide and water. Biodegradable matter is generally organic material (compounds with carbon-hydrogen bonds) which serves as a nutrient source for microorganisms.

Substances are subjected to testing using populations of mixed microorganisms including bacteria from natural water or soil. Water, sunlight, and oxygen are needed for optimum aerobic biodegradation to occur. Such tests include:

  • ASTM D-5864 Standard Test Method for Determining Aerobic Aquatic Biodegradation of Lubricants
  • OECD 301B Modified Sturm Test of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
  • EPA 560/6-82-003 Shake Flask Test of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

To pass readily-biodegradable test standards, typically a minimum of 60% degradation of a substance must occur during a 28-day incubation period.

Why Biogradable Lubrication Is Important

Bio-based lubricants, being derived from natural plant esters, provide superior biodegradability over other lubricant base stocks such as mineral (petroleum) or synthetic stocks. These plant-based esters come from renewable and sustainable crops such as canola, soy, and sunflower oils.

In an oil-spill situation in the field, companies find themselves liable for any environmental impact. In the news, we hear about the damage inflicted on the environment from the leaking of oils into landscapes and waterways very often, which can result in not only devastation to the ecological makeup of the area, but also huge remediation costs for the companies involved.

Biodegradability of lubricant oil spill graphic Jun 2021

Mineral / petroleum products may have inherent biodegradability, but that means that in 28 days only 20-35% of the spill may have biodegraded. However, lubricants with plant-based esters such as BioBlend’s line of sustainable products, can be classified as readily biodegradable (>60%) fluid per the most stringent requirement of OECD 301B.

Moreover, note that biodegradation of hydraulic fluid does NOT occur when the fluid resides within the hydraulic system … it takes soil and/or water microbes, heat/UV radiation and water to catalyze the oil biodegradation process. So, the oil does not start biodegrading until it enters the environment … and only if these conditions exist.

Don’t Risk It; Go Bio-Based

BioBlend’s renewable and biodegradable lubricants have been formulated to deliver superior performance for a wide variety of applications which touch the environment such as mining, marine transport, construction, agriculture, forestry, and more. You can be confident that when you use the:

in the BioBlend lineup, you can count on superior lubrication performance with the least ecological impact.

Explore our product line, and contact us today for more information.

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