Is this just a buzz word used to create a more positive image of the Chemical Industry, or is it a true concept that is influencing Chemical Companies to adapt their behaviours and activities at their production sites?

Green Chemistry is more than just aiming towards substantiable operations and reducing GHG emissions, Green Chemistry has 12 clear principles that touches various topics: including of course sustainability, efficiency, and environmental, but also extending to subjects like safety and the circular economy.

Klüber Lubrication is part of a chemical company itself and since the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 where the Green Chemistry concept was born, Klüber Lubrication has never stopped improving its processes according to these 12 principles, in fact Klüber Lubrication has created their own sustainability matrix to measure progress in this regard.

Local production, local material sourcing, installation of solar energy, optimized processes, less wastage and implementing a safety-first philosophy, these are just a few things we do to support Green Chemistry, but what about our Handprint? Lubrication is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Green Chemistry, but lubricants can have a positive impact on at least half of the 12 Green Chemistry principles.

Principle #1: Pollution Prevention

From spills caused by over greasing, seal failure, or the disposal of end-of-life lubricants, there are several reasons why lubricants could become a source of pollution in a chemical plant. The use of mineral lubricants for example which have a shorter service life because of their bad resistance to oxidation and temperature and therefore generate more waste. Our Compressor and Gearbox oils on the other hand can extend service life by up to 6 times and reduce grease consumption by almost 800%.

When it comes to seals, a lot of pollution comes from lubricants leaking out of seals because of incompatibility between the oil and elastomer material, however by calling on the expertise of our partner companies, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies and EagleBurgmann who have developed the Lube n Seal approach when we recommend a lubricant for a specific application it is possible to maximize the lifetime of your seals.

Principle #5: Safer Solvent & Auxiliaries

The use of conventional lubricants on some applications could represent a danger and risk to life as some mechanical components operate in enriched oxygen, chlorine, cryogenic, aggressive, or sour environments and need special attention to avoid the risk of toxic vapors, fire and even explosions. Specialty lubricants from Klüber Lubrication based on Perfluoropolyether (PFPE) chemistry for their chemical inertness, BAM approvals (oxygen service) and superior resistance to extreme temperatures alleviate these concerns. The selection of an oil for gas compressors can also be challenging due to the clogging of pressure release valves or problems with downstream catalysis because of an unexpected reaction within the process. Depending on the gas stream of your process, our compressor specialists will help you find the best product for your application.

Principle #6: Design for Energy Efficiency

In the Chemical Industry several high energy consumption applications have the potential for energy savings by converting to synthetic oils, but synthetic oils are only beneficial if they have better coefficient of friction and better viscosity behaviour versus temperature.

KlüberEnergy and Klüber Efficiency Support are designed to help our customers reduce their GHG emissions and save energy costs – average energy savings can be between 2-4%. We have 300 cases of proven energy savings using products developed with energy efficiency in mind and have generated up to 7% energy savings using our special lubricants based on Polyalkylene glycol or water-based chemistries.

Principle #10: Design for Degradation

A Chemical Park has many applications that represent a higher risk of contamination for the environment, such as the tracks and switches on the railway network, the pumps and hydraulic systems at the water treatment plant, or the conveyors and cranes at the maritime shipping terminal. By using Biodegradable lubricants for these applications risks can be reduced. Many people are still skeptical about the performance of EALs (Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants), resulting in an unwillingness to move to these types of lubricants. The truth, however, is that EALs can outperform conventional lubricants based on mineral oils. Our full range of Klüberbio products can improve the reliability of your components and are available for all applications that pose a risk to the environment.

Principle #11: Real-time Analysis for Pollution Prevention

By focusing on digitalization solutions for our customers, we are now able to offer an online, real-time oil condition monitoring service. By installing units/sensors on critical equipment we can quickly raise a signal about a potential problem, premature and catastrophic failures can then be caught and addressed before they happen, saving costs on spare parts and disposal. We also have remote sensors available for sending alarms when a leak is detected on different applications like pumps, mechanical seals or gearboxes.

Principle #12: Accident Prevention:

An oil change or manually greasing a bearing might not be among the most dangerous tasks a maintenance team face, but synthetic lubricants can save your team anything from 3-6 lubrication runs, which can reduce the risk of injury that can be caused by slippery floors, tripping or falling. It is also not uncommon for some applications in Chemical production plants to be in hazardous areas representing a danger for workers due to out of reach applications making lubrication tasks impossible. Klüber Lubrication has the solution for maximum safety of your employees and for ultimate reliability of your equipment, our Klübermatic smart lubricators will automatically deliver the best lubricant, in the optimal quantity and at the right intervals.

At Klüber Lubrication, our quest to reach Green Chemistry excellence is never-ending. We are proud of what we achieved over the past 90 years and hope to help even more chemical companies like us revamp the image of this industrial sector that is part of our daily existence.

Let’s collaborate, take the Green Chemistry concept to the next level, and make this world a better place to live for us and the future generations.

Jonathan Venditti, Chemist

Global Market Manager – Chemical Industry

Klüber Lubrication München