Dr. Stefan Seemeyer, Head of Research and Development, provides insights into how speciality lubricants of the future could look like.
Which challenges will a speciality lubricant of the future need to overcome?
Most of our customers’ current applicants have the focus on reaching higher performance parameters such as compatibility of materials, noise reduction or lifetime lubrication. In addition, chemical and regulatory requirements will make it increasingly difficult to develop speciality lubricants for the global use.
What could be the challenges and consequences of the regulations?
In Europe, the REACH regulation obliges Klüber Lubrication to manufacture products using only raw materials and additives that are registered and approved. Other regions and countries have similar regulations that do not conform to REACH. For example, a raw material may be approved in Europe, but not in another region. In addition, we need to observe market-related regulations such as the standard approval for the use of speciality lubricants in the food industry, or biodegradability of lubricants in the marine industry. In future, it will be increasingly difficult to find raw materials and additives that are approved and used worldwide. Water can play an increasingly important function as a component for speciality lubricants.
Water – isn't that rather an unusual speciality lubricant?
At first glance – yes. We are aware that there is a degree of scepticism among our customers and development partners regarding water-based lubricants. And it is certainly true that water has certain physical and biological limitations. These for instance include evaporation, freezing points, oxidation (corrosion) and microbiological growth.
However, we are able to push these boundaries. By using additives, or technical solutions on the component itself, we can take advantage of the water-specific effects. For example, volatilized water can be used for cooling by retaining it in a circuit within a closed component. Certain additives can reduce microbiological growth or protect the component against corrosion.
What is the future role of water-based lubricants?
Water is an everyday and sustainable raw material. It is very unlikely that it will be prohibited in future.
And our technology is clearly new and innovative. Under certain circumstances, a water-based lubricant cannot be compared with a conventional lubricant and requires us to think differently. This will require us to re-appraise and adapt measurements, test procedures and test rigs.
From a chemical and tribological point of view, I believe that our water-based lubricants will create many new opportunities for us. It will be important for us to identify suitable applications and take advantage of the properties of water in these applications.
If you like to find out more about water-based speciality lubricants please contact us vie E-Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.