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AMF - Implementing Agreement on Advanced Motor Fuels

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Annex 16: Biodegradable Lubricants

Final Report

Summary

Recently there has been increased interest in extending the use of biodegradable vegetable oils in lubricants, driven mostly by environmental as well as health and safety issues, and also arising from changes in economic and supply factors. There is a plentiful supply of vegetable oils in many parts of the world where mineral oil is expensive and in short supply. Biodegradable synthetic esters are used to a wide extend in outboard two-stroke engines, and also for other more specialised engines.

Biodegradable oils are desirable from many environmentally beneficial aspects, being advantageous from the viewpoint of oil spill or illegal waste and improved working environment in workshops. Part of the emissions from vehicle engines are caused by lubricants. From the viewpoint of emissions, biodegradable lubricant are expected to behave differently from conventional lubricants, particularly with respect to SOF emissions (Soluble Organic Fraction of particulate emissions). Vegetable oils do not contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, posing a great risk to human health. Vegetable oils are also low in potential pollutants like sulphur containing compounds. Sulphur containing compounds are in many cases environmentally undesired, but may also cause technical problems in connection with catalytic converters.

The objectives of the project are to obtain an understanding of:
- lubricant characteristics
- presently available biodegradable lubricants on the international market
- the economical feasibility of implementing biodegradable lubricants in vehicles.
- the environmental consequences of implementing biodegradable lubricants in vehicles

This work contains:

- review of lubricant characterisation: In this part lubricant properties will be explained, based on a collection of information from relevant literature and experts in this field. Most emphasis will be put into biodegradability properties and test procedures.

- Review of available biodegradable lubricants on the market: In this part the available biodegradable lubricant products will be summarised, based on a collection of information from relevant literature and experts in this field.

- Economical feasibility study: In this part the economical feasibility of implementing biodegradable lubricants on engines running on conventional as well as alternative fuels will be evaluated, based on a collection of information from relevant literature and experts in this field.

- Environmental impact study: In this part the environmental impact of implementing biodegradable lubricants on engines running on conventional as well as alternative fuels will be evaluated, based on a collection of information from relevant literature and experts in this field.

Participants

  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • USA

Operating Agent

Prof. Jesper Schramm
Technical University of Denmark (DTU)