Understanding Multipurpose Greases

Since the invention of the wheel, operators have used grease to help run their bearings. Grease technology remained similar until the industrial revolution, where heavy machinery and advancing technology required lubricating grease to keep up. In the last few decades, grease technology has advanced so much that there is probably a grease tailor-made for any application. However, this has resulted in the loss of an “All-Purpose Grease.”

Multipurpose is not All-Purpose

Many applications are similar in regards to operating temperature, loads, speed, etc. and could be lubricated with the same grease. This creates an illusion that one grease can lubricate all of your machinery. It is tempting to do so because of the benefits of lubricant consolidation, increased purchasing power, and simplified lubricant storage. Greases are uniquely formulated to operate at certain loads, speeds, temperatures, etc. This means that a grease will work optimally for one application, but subpar for another.

In the transport industry, there used to be separate greases for chassis and wheel bearings. This changed when lithium greases emerged and proved to be suitable for both chassis and wheel bearings. These multipurpose greases became popular, but there were certifications needed in order to be truly “multi-purpose.” The National Lubricating Grease Institute (NLGI) has “L” certifications for chassis greases and “G” for wheel bearings. They were paired with an “A”, “B”, or “C” to denote the severity of operations; “A” being the lightest and “B”/”C” being the most severe duty. Most multipurpose greases carry the NLGI GC-LB certification. These are the gold-standard greases for heavy-duty transport operations.

The “Multipurpose” nomenclature is a great marketing tool, but can mislead people into thinking a grease has more “purposes” than it actually does. There is a place for multipurpose greases, but engineers have to evaluate the operation and the grease’s characteristics before selecting the appropriate greases and plans for consolidation.

Selecting the Proper Greases

Some OEM recommendations are simple like, “Use a lithium #2 grease.” Whereas others are complex and list different specifications that ensure optimal performance. Some specifications to consider include:

  • NLGI Grade/Thickness
  • Thickener Type
  • Base Oil Type and Viscosity
  • Dropping Point
  • Oxidation Stability
  • Pumpability
  • Water resistance characteristics
  • EP characteristics

These specifications will help guide you in selecting the appropriate grease. By evaluating these characteristics, you are less likely to over-consolidate your greases and achieve optimal performance. More greases mean a greater probability of cross-contamination, this can be mitigated with proper storage and labeling.

Twin Specialties offers a Full Line of Greases

When selecting the proper grease, talking to manufacturers and informed distributors helps greatly. Twin Specialties has a full line of greases from manufacturers like Shell and Castrol. We work with manufacturers to help find the right product that meets any OEM specification. Contact us if you are looking for the correct grease or just more information.

How Long is Lubricant’s Shelf Life?

When buying lubricants, you have to consider how long they will last. For high-volume users, this is not as much of an issue compared to smaller-volume users. High-volume users’ regularly consumer and reorder lubricants and typically have systems in place to monitor usage and spending. Small-volume users might be spread a drum or two of a lubricant through the course of a year. When consumption is spread out, you have to start to consider shelf-life into your purchasing decisions and operational processes.

Where can I find Shelf-Life Information?

Table made by George Wills and Dr. A.R. Landsdown

Information on a lubricant’s shelf life can be found on a technical or safety data sheet. If it is no t clearly defined, manufacturers and distributors can provide guidance on shelf life for its products. However, this information might be based on storage only or based on typical operations. George Wills and Dr. A.R. Landsdown provide a brief list of lubricants and their shelf-lives for products that have shorter shelf-lives.

Some technical data sheets (TDS) can show how long a lubricant can last in use before losing oxidation stability. This is measured in operating hours. Most oxidation tests will show a lubricant can last 5000+, 8000+, 10000+, etc. hours. However, like all scientific tests, this is done in a controlled environment (usually set by ISO or ASTM standards and specifications). We know that not every operating environment is like an ASTM or ISO test.

What Determines a Lubricant’s Shelf Life?

A lubricant’s shelf life depends on a variety of factors; some of which depend on the lubricant itself and some depend on usage. Greases have much shorter shelf life due to the presence of thickeners than oil-based lubricants. Highly-refined and synthetic oils have longer shelf lives due to better molecular stability. This is much more straight-forward and lubricant suppliers can inform you which lubricants last longer than others.

Using a lubricant is different for each operation. Some operations happen at low temperatures, others occur at high temperatures. The Arrhenius rate is a chemistry term that demonstrates how chemical reactions increase by changing temperature. For lubricants, as temperature increases by 10°C (18°F), the oxidation rate will double. The more oxidation that occurs, the faster a lubricant will break down and reduce the shelf life and effective use life.

Machinery Lubrication compiled a chart from its experts to show what can increase or decrease a lubricants shelf life.

Table Courtesy of Noria Corporation and Machinery Lubrication

 

How can you Reduce Oxidation?

Oxidation occurs when the lubricant comes into contact with air. Certain lubricants are more susceptible to faster oxidation and degradation due to the composition of the lubricant. However, these are known and can be accounted for, whereas human factors are a much greater influence on degradation and chemical stability.

Storage is key to maintain longer shelf-life and higher lubricant performance. Some things that can improve shelf-life include:

  • Storing lubricants in proper ambient temperatures. Cooler temperatures around 68°F are ideal.
  • Storing lubricants in dryer environments. Ambient humidity and moisture increase oxidation and lubricant breakdown.
  • Storing lubricants indoors. Outdoor storage can expose lubricants to more extreme and volatile conditions.
  • Storing lubricants in proper containers. Poor-quality steel containers can expose the oil to iron and fuel oxidation. Plastic or plastic-lined drums are ideal for storage.
  • Reduce agitation of the lubricant. The move the lubricant is agitated or moved, the more surface area of oil is exposed to air and can oxidize.
  • Evaluate usage and purchase lubricants accordingly. This smooths out spending, but also reduces the likelihood of using older products.
  • Practice First-In-First-Out (FIFO) when using lubricants. This prevents lubricants from sitting and aging.
  • Label lubricants, containers, and machines. Knowing when a lubricant was made or put into use allows individuals to be more mindful of when to change lubricants.

How do I Get Informed?

Unfortunately, there is no industry consensus on shelf-life. Following the tips above will extend and maintain shelf-life. Speaking with manufacturers, distributors, and engineers is the best option in getting product-specific shelf-life information. Manufacturers will know exactly what goes into their products and can provide shelf-life information and best practices for storage.

Twin Specialties can provide information about Best Practices for Lubricant Storage and Managing Metalworking Fluids. We work with manufacturers to provide transparency and information about lubricant shelf-life and usage. Contact Twin Specialties for information about lubricants, best practices, and shelf-life.

Coolants for Heavy Duty Machining

This is a copy of the post created by Monroe Fluid Technology, June 2021. Used with permission.

Written by Fred Kane, Monroe Fluid Technology

Monroe Fluid Technology has two ‘workhorse’ water soluble oil concentrates, designed specifically for the demands of heavy duty machining applications. Where a chlorinated additive is specified, our Astro- Sol C HD is recommended. In circumstances where a chlorinated additive may not be suitable, we offer Astro-Sol A-XBP. Both are low foaming products, suitable for virtually all metals and applications, and are designed to resist bio-degradation.

Astro-Sol A-XBP

Astro-Sol A-XBP is a medium-to-heavy duty biostatic soluble oil. This product was designed to be extended with water for the machining and grinding of virtually all metals except magnesium. This chlorine-free formulation is especially suited for aerospace and other applications which restrict the use of chlorine. Astro-Sol A-XBP has exceptional foam control for high-pressure operations and was designed using raw materials that have the ability to resist extreme biological degradation, thus providing a very long sump life in a properly maintained machine tool. Astro-Sol A-XBP is designed for use in metalworking applications such as all CNC milling, turning, drilling, tapping, grinding and sawing applications.

Astro-Sol C HD

Astro-Sol C HD is an extreme duty soluble oil concentrate designed for the most demanding machining operations where controlled foam and cleanliness are required. The unique combination of chlorinated extreme pressure additive, modern boundary lubricants, and a controlled-foam emulsifier package brings outstanding performance to the most severe applications. Astro-Sol C HD is formulated with a high level of stabilized chlorinated EP additive using a synthetic emulsification platform that is very stable and exceptionally low foaming. Astro-Sol C HD is designed for use in heavy-duty metal removal, deep hole drilling, tapping and threading, as well as all conventional machining and is very effective in sawing operations.

Trial Monroe Metalworking Fluids

If you have an interest in trialing one or both of these products, just inquire and we will send samples and also our Astro-Clean A, a sump cleaner you can add directly on top of your current coolant, run for 24-48 hours while making parts, then dump, rinse and recharge with the new coolant. Remember, water quality is important, so we may need a sample of your water for testing, or if you know the hardness of your water, we can resolve that issue easily.

Twin Specialties is an authorized distributor for Monroe Fluid coolants, oils, rust preventatives, and industrial cleaners. Contact Twin Specialties to learn more about Monroe Fluid’s product line and learn about our sampling and testing programs. Check out Twin Specialties’ catalog of metalworking fluids, rust preventatives, and industrial cleaners.

3 Factors for Perfecting Aqueous Cleaning

When cleaning finished machine parts, manufacturers have to meet the increasingly stringent cleanliness tolerances, while also operating a cost-effective cleaning process. Old standards no longer apply and manufacturers have to evaluate their operations to select the best cleaning process. Just utilizing best practices and monitoring your tank is not enough.

The first thing that should be assessed is the contamination generated in all stages of the manufacturing process. Engineers should have data on all processes and substances that parts have been exposed to. Cleaner and equipment suppliers should have reliable lab work to help understand the process and contaminants. Equipment and cleaner manufacturers should provide transparent testing and results to demonstrate the value and effectiveness of their solution.

The 3 Cleaning Energies

Every cleaning process will depend on a balance of 3 energies: chemical, thermal, and mechanical. If one form of energy is increased, the other two forms of energy can typically be reduced. The key to perfecting your aqueous cleaning process will be balancing the 3 energies.

Chemical Energy

Chemistry should be the first consideration in developing a cleaning process. The part material and contamination will determine the appropriate pH range of your aqueous cleaner. The goal is to minimize chemistry at the lowest temperatures and least costly form of mechanical energy to achieve cleanliness standards in the required time cycle.

Alkaline cleaners (pH 9-14) are ideal for removing organic contaminants such as oils, greases, coolants, etc. Acidic cleaners (pH 1-6) are ideal for removing inorganic contaminants such as oxides and rust. Neutral cleaners are excellent for use in systems that use more mechanical energy such as ultrasonic cleaning.

Depending on the part material, less or more aggressive cleaners will be appropriate. More neutral chemistries should be considered for softer and more reactive metals, such as aluminum, copper, or brass. A more aggressive chemistry could start attacking/reacting with the part itself. Less reactive metals can withstand stronger chemistries, higher temperatures, and more mechanical energy. Inert chemistries will require more mechanical energy to drive reactions and break down contaminants.

Thermal Energy

Heat is controlled in a cleaning system by different heating elements. What elements and how they are programmed are dependent on your goals and system. It is important to carefully monitor temperatures to prevent reduced heat element life and temperature capacity. Sensors and controllers are recommended to monitor cleaning systems and can help prolong service life and improve performance.

Heat increases the speed of molecules and faster molecules are better at breaking down bonds of contaminants. For every 17 F increase in temperature, reaction rates can double. This can accelerate the cleaning process. The optimal temperature in most systems is 120 F to 160 F. Too low of temperatures can lead to foaming and less effective cleaning.

Increased heat can reduce drying times and accelerate the cleaning process. It is important to remove pools of water using gravity or airflow. However, too hot of temperatures could create “flash rusting,” which can lead to parts being deemed off-spec or require additional cleaning or work.

Mechanical Energy

The final piece of the puzzle is mechanical energy. This is determined by the equipment and process that is used. Vertical agitators are popular because of their forgiveness and ability to avoid oil loading. The main way to generate mechanical energy is creating agitation.

In immersion cleaning systems, agitation is created by moving the parts in and out or within a tank of cleaner. Spray washers introduce agitation by introducing energy into the cleaner by spraying it at high speeds onto parts. Spray washers can be used in conveyer systems that have multiple stages, such as washing, rinsing, and rust inhibiting.

Ultrasonic cleaning introduce the most mechanical energy and are ideal for cleaning processes with limited heat and less aggressive chemistry. Ultrasonic cleaning should be considered when conventional methods fail to meet cleanliness tolerances.

Conclusion

Balancing the three energies is key to perfecting a cleaning process. When selecting an aqueous cleaner, consider your equipment, process, contaminants, and part material. Twin Specialties offers a full-line of aqueous cleaners that can fit any cleaning process. Many cleaners are specifically designed for ultrasonic, spray, and/or immersion cleaning process. Contact Twin Specialties to learn more about our aqueous cleaners and see what product is right for you.

How to Manage your Metalworking Fluids

Metalworking fluids may not contribute that much to your manufacturing costs, but when fluids begin to fail or not work as intended, the costs could be astronomical. With the increasing costs of more technological fluids and rising disposal costs, managing your fluid and fluid consumption is more important than ever. Managing your fluids and dedicating a fluid management program could pay dividends by: reducing fluid usage, extending tool life, and improving manufacturing performance.

Monitoring Concentration

Fluid technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the years and have improved performance for manufacturers. However, these advanced fluids have been engineered to work at specific concentrations. Running a coolant too thin or too rich will limit its ability to do its job. Running a coolant too rich might cause problems of over lubricity, but the main problem is overconsumption of the fluid.

The big problems occur when a fluid is too thin. This means the concentration in the sump is below the manufacturer’s recommendation. The additive packages are designed based on these minimum concentrations and provide enough of each additive to perform its function properly. Less concentrate means fewer biocides, fewer rust inhibitors, fewer emulsion stabilizers, etc. Eventually, the fluid breaks down quicker requiring more frequent change-outs. Some managing fluids, some operators use coolant additives/boosts to improve performance. If you vigilantly monitor concentration, the need for additives will lessen and thus reduce costs.

To monitor concentration, use a refractometer to measure concentration frequently. It is recommended to measure concentration every day or twice a day (depending on your operating schedule). The same person should measure to ensure consistency and ensure reliable measurements. When charging or recharging sumps, using automatic mixers helps ensure concentration is consistent. Remember, do not add just coolant or just water to the sump to balance out concentration. Some facilities use digital coolant monitoring systems to manage concentration, pH, and other factors. Facilities with large coolant systems may benefit from the technology.

Assessing Water Quality

Water comprises 90% or more of the fluid in the sump, thus it is crucial to make sure you are using good water. A common problem is hard water. The ions in hard water can cause chemical instability and increase the likelihood for emulsion splitting. Testing and treating your water is recommended to make sure your sump mix is working as intended. Twin Specialties can test samples of your tap water to ensure it is suitable for use in your metalworking fluid. If your tap water is excessively hard, installing a de-ionized water line is recommended for your facility. Coolant mixers can be connected directly to these lines to ensure proper mixing.

Once your water is deemed suitable, mixing the oil and water is all that is left in preparation. For the best performance and increased emulsion stability, follow the acronym O.I.L.: oil in last. This is an easy to remember acronym that will help you manually mix coolant; automatic mixers already mix using best practices.

Monitoring pH

Alkalinity is critical in the performance of your fluid. If the pH dips too low, it will no longer work and will need to be changed out. If pH drops below 8, it is imperative to raise it immediately. If pH drops below 7, the coolant is lost and must be changed. As the coolant gets more acidic (decreasing pH) you increase your risk of rusting problems. Some additives boost pH, but those may not be needed if you actively monitor your concentration. Monitoring is relatively easy, mix the fluid in the sump to get a more homogenized solution then dip a pH testing strip into the solution. Give the strip some time to change color and then match the strip to a reference sheet (usually provided with the strips). Then you can act accordingly armed with the pH information you need.

Tramp Oil Removal

Slideways and spindles require oil lubricants in order to function properly and ensure proper machining operations. These oil lubricants will leak into the sump and can cause havoc on your metalworking fluid. Some of the lubricant will be emulsified and disrupt the chemical composition of your metalworking fluid. The more oil content in the concentrate, the more likely the tramp oil will be emulsified.

This causes the growth of anaerobic bacteria. This bacterium creates hydrogen sulfide gas, which is the “rotten egg” or “Monday morning” smell that indicates coolant rancidity. The hydrogen sulfide in water also produces acids that drive down pH and alkalinity, which further damages coolant.

Synthetic coolants are excellent in rejecting tramp oils and prevent them from being emulsified. These floating oils can easily be skimmed and removed before causing damage. Using coolants below recommended concentrations limit the tramp oil rejecting additives and can accelerate this process of degradation.

Floating tramp oil can increase oil mist and smoke formation that can damage machines. The tramp oil mist also increases residues on the machine that can clog filters and destroy critical electronic components. Removing floating oil is relatively easy. Installing a skimmer, centrifuge, and/or coalescer will remove tramp oil from the sump and extend your coolants life.

Filtration

Metal fines and chips may find their way into the sump. It is important that they do not remain there and are not cycled through the machine. These fines can cause wear and damage to the machine and workpiece. The fines can build up and create dead-zones when additives are trapped and do not work. The trapped additives cannot work and lead to accelerated coolant breakdown.

Filtration used to be a cost-prohibitive endeavor, but the economics of coolant management and consumption make filters a worthwhile tool. The costs of filtration have come down and filtration technology has improved, thus implementing them will reduce coolant consumption and coolant spending.

Removing Foreign Substances from the Sump

Dirt and other foreign substances can cause problems such as abrasion and pump damage. Filtering solid substances and removing them will improve coolant performance. Sump cleaners might not be fully removed and can cause excessive foaming. If that happens, using a defoamer should alleviate these issues. However, be sure to properly remove the cleaner before recharging the sump. Prevention and proper preparation are usually the best maintenance.

Managing Straight Oil/Neat Oil

Neat oils require much less maintenance than water soluble coolants. This is because neat oils do not require water, which is a breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, and mold. However, there are still a few things that you should do to maintain and extend fluid life. The main thing should be done is filtering metal fines. Removing these metal fines improve finishing and fluid performance.

Takeaways

Given the rising costs and improving technology of metalworking fluids, it is more important than ever to proactively manage your fluids. This can lead to extended use intervals and improved performance. Following these steps will allow your machine to get the most out of these fluids.

Twin Specialties provides a full line of metalworking fluids and additives. Additionally, our sales team will work with you to test your fluids and water to troubleshoot the problem. Contact Twin Specialties for more information about our metalworking fluids, technical expertise, and our testing and sampling program.

What are Fire Resistant Lubricants?

Fire-resistant lubricants are fluids that are used in applications and systems where the risk of ignition is high. Typically, these environments are near or contain: open flames, sparks, or hot metals. If an oil leak were to occur, the risk of injury, damage, and even death is magnified as sustained fires can occur. That is why fire-resistant lubricants have been developed and manufactured to protect personnel and equipment.

Why do I need a Fire-Resistant Lubricant?

Fire-resistant lubricants are most needed in environments need high-temperature surfaces and open flames. Regular fluids that have low flash points pose the greatest risks to fire and should be switched for fire-resistant lubricants that have higher flash points.

If using pressurized hydraulic lines, it is key to have a fluid with a high flash point as small leaks can aerosolize the lubricant easily. The lubricant spray is much more susceptible to fire. It takes much less heat to ignite and can spread to fluid reservoirs. The lubricant can ignite if it’s fire point and/or auto-ignition point is reached. The fire point is the temperature at which a fire is sustained and is typically several (50+) degrees higher than the flash point. Opting for fire-resistant fluids with higher flash points will reduce the risk of fire and damage.

Fire-Resistance Fluid Standards

The term “Fire Resistant” and “Fire Resistance” are often misinterpreted and sometimes overused. There is no single property or metric that conveys relative fire resistance. Metrics like flash point, fire point, and autoignition temperature are useful, but do not tell the whole story. Because of this, most fluids are vigorously tested and are classified as “fire resistant” if it can pass various tests and simulations.

The Factory Mutual Research Corporation (FM) developed key benchmarks for testing fire-resistance. FM tests every single commercially available “Fire Resistant” fluid to ensure it meets various benchmarks. FM 6930 is the standard for hydraulic fluids and is classified into 3 levels: 0, 1, and 2. This standard only measures a fluid’s flammability and does not consider other factors of the lubricant.

The Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) has their own tests and standards for underground mines and applications. Their stringent testing produces more failures than FM. Both programs has strict auditing and inspection programs to ensure fire-resistant fluids meet performance standards.

Types of Fire-Resistant Lubricants

Oil-Water Emulsions

There are 2 types of oil-water emulsion fluids: oil-in-water and water-in-oil. Oil-in-water emulsions are formulated with oil droplets sustained in water. Approximately 95% of the fluid is made of water and the remaining 5% is composed of oil. These emulsions have excellent fire resistance and heat-transfer capabilities, but poor lubricity and poor corrosion protection.

Due to these poor lubricity characteristics, water-in-oil emulsions (also known as inverse emulsions) are better performing fluids. These are 40% water and 60% oil. It provides more balance of heat-transfer properties, lubricity, and corrosion protection. The fire-resistance primarily comes from the water, which turns into steam and reduces the oil’s combustibility.

Water Glycols

Water-in-oil emulsions have seen declining market share due to the rise of Water Glycol Fluids. Water Glycols contain 35-45% water and the remaining contents are some sort of glycol, such as ethylene glycol. These Water Glycols offer some benefits such as a lower freezing point and excellent fire resistance. Water Glycols do have drawbacks, but many of these can be mitigated by various additive packages. These fluids can be used in a variety of applications, but speed and strength ratings are reduced due to the limited performance of the fluid. Despite this, Water Glycols are one of the most popular fire resistance lubricants on the market today.

Phosphate Esters

Phosphate Esters provide the best fire resistance properties of any fluid. This is due to their natural molecular structure. They are non-corrosive, have excellent oxidative stability, great anti-wear characteristics, and are suitable for use up to 150 C. Despite this, they have been losing popularity due to stringent compatibility and maintenance concerns. They are still popular for aircraft and military applications. Additionally, they require special seals and coatings and require special care during disposal.

Polyol Esters

Polyol ester fluids have gained popularity due to its fire resistance properties, excellent lubricity, and good viscosity stability across different temperatures. These contain additive packages to impart good performance and high thermal properties. These are much more compatible and versatile than phosphate esters. This has led to their rising popularity and market share in recent years.

Maintenance and Other Considerations

When switching to fire-resistant fluids, compatibility must be considered before restarting the equipment. By carefully draining the machine, this decreases the likelihood of any incompatibility issues.

High-water content fluids require a lot more maintenance and care to ensure they perform properly. Water provides a great medium for bacteria and biocide treatments are recommended to prevent bacteria growth. As temperatures rise, water evaporates and needs to be replaced to ensure the fluids cooling properties are not compromised. pH levels should be monitored along with corrosiveness and wear protection. It is important to follow proper storage practices to maximize efficacy and shelf life.

Like any other oils, fire-resistant fluids degrade in heat and reduce oxidative stability. It is important to note rotating pressure vessel oxidation test (RPVOT) values to ensure your fluid has enough oxidative stability.

Conclusion

Fire-resistant fluids are great options for equipment and environments that are susceptible to fires. If you have high-pressure machines, it is imperative to consider fire-resistant fluids to prevent potential sprays that can ignite. Twin Specialties offers both water glycols and polyol esters to meet your needs. Contact Twin Specialties for product information.

Why is it difficult to source Chemicals?

Throughout the last few months, there have been numerous disruptions across various supply chains, often occurring consecutively or even simultaneously. With COVID lockdowns in China, the war in Ukraine, truck driver shortages, and port congestion, some chemicals are still difficult to source.

Below are three different direct impacts the chemical industry is experiencing that will affect you and your business:

Allocation & Force Majeure

Due to natural disasters, staffing shortages, raw import shortages, and plant shut downs, lead times have more than doubled for almost all products. Products sold and transported by the tanker, truck load, and shipping container are facing longer lead times due driver shortages. Read more to learn more about the shortages and lead times.

Container Crisis & Container Shortages

Importing goods is more costly due to several reasons.

  1. There is a shipping container shortage.
  2. Shipping containers are stuck at ports due to trucking shortages.
  3. Some ports are shut down due to staffing shortages, leaving cargo ships anchored at sea for weeks on end.

Due to these interruptions, raw materials are harder to import, causing a shortage in finished goods (chemicals, containers, etc.) As we are seeing costs increase for all products and services, we are seeing large swings in our container costs as well. Read more for additional info and more can be found here about container shortages.

Lead Times & China Power Outage Mandate

The government of China has mandated power outages in an effort to save energy and cut carbon emissions. These power outages halt production for plants within the JiangSu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and other provinces. Shutting down these plants is causing a shortage in chemicals, clothing, and various other goods and raw materials. Read more about the forced shutdown period in China. In addition, to environmental requirements, certain provinces shut down business due to spikes in COVID case counts. This put pressure on other manufacturers to fill demand.

What is Twin Specialties Doing?

We look to serve our customer the best way possible. These challenges force us to think differently and try new things. We are continuously looking to expand our relationships with our current suppliers and grow our network of suppliers. This allows us more options to source chemicals that you need at the best price possible. If you are looking for chemicals, fill out the form below and Twin Specialties will help you find the exact product you are looking for.

How to Select the Right Grease

Selecting a grease or lubricant is one of the most crucial decisions you make in regards to any machine. Your selection might make the difference between cost savings, reduced downtime, or significant unexpected costs and failures. For oil lubricants, many OEMs specify what product or what type of product is recommended for each component of their equipment. This simplifies the selection process. However, OEM grease specifications are much broader. Most of the time OEMs simply recommend the National Lubrication Grease Institute (NLGI) specification.

This presents both flexibility and options, but also introduces more room erroneous decision-making and poor lubrication. Simply using the NLGI grade is not enough. You have to look at other factors to ensure you grease and machine work properly and does not fail. We will look at some key factors that every operator needs to consider.

Base Oil Viscosity

A grease is composed of 3 ingredients: thickener, oil, and additives. The NLGI number indicates the thickness of the thickener, but does not specify the viscosity of the thickened base oil. The underlying base oil has its own viscosity just like any lubrication oil. If a piece of a equipment calls for a certain lubricating oil with a specific viscosity, it is easy to find a grease that has the same base oil viscosity and similar additive package.

If viscosity requirements are not specified, you can use the chart below (courtesy of ExxonMobil and Noria).

The two factors required are operating temperature and DN or NDm, which are the bearing speed factors. To calculate those speed factors, simply use the following formula:

  • DN = (rpm)*(bearing bore) and
  • NDm = (rpm)*((bearing bore + outside diameter) / 2)

The intersection of DN and Temperature will point you towards the required ISO viscosity. This chart assumes viscosity index.

Base Oil Type and Additives

Once a viscosity is identified, you need to figure out what additives and base oil you need. Similar to oil lubricants you must assess your operations and figure what additives are necessary or unnecessary. For example, light loads and high-speed applications do not require a grease with extreme pressure (EP) additives, but a heavily loaded application will need those EP additives. The chart below breaks down the needed additives for various bearings.

Courtesy of Noria

Most greases use mineral oil and only require mineral oil. However, synthetic base oils are recommended for certain extreme temperature applications. Applications with low or high operating temperatures or a wide range of temperatures, a synthetic base oil is recommended. Synthetic base oil greases are also recommended for users who want to longer regreasing intervals.

Grease Thickener

Unlike lubricating oils, greases include thickeners. The two factors that distinguish grease are type and consistency. As mentioned earlier, consistency is based on the NLGI scale. The scale ranges from 000 (most fluid) to 6 (least fluid). The most common and most recommended NLGI grade is #2. Most OEMs specify the NLGI grade and matching that number is a simple process (especially if you require a NLGI 2 grease).

The other factor for thickeners is the type of thickener. The differences between each type of thickener are present pros and cons for each application. The most common types are lithium soap, lithium complex, and polyurea. Lithium soap greases are low-cost general-purpose grease and perform well in general applications. Lithium complex is similar to lithium soap, but is preferred for applications with higher operating temperatures. Polyurea greases have good high-temperature properties and have high oxidation stability and bleed resistance. When switching greases, it is important to understand thickener compatibility to make sure the new grease does not fail.

Cost and Other Considerations

When purchasing a grease, a basic lithium grease will be cheaper than a sophisticated polyurea grease. It is up to you to determine the tradeoffs between grease costs and performance gains/losses. Purchasing a higher quality grease may lead to longer regreasing intervals and less machine failure.

To save costs, consolidating greases may be wise, but be wary of over-consolidation. This may result in some machines not using an appropriate grease.

Other attributes should be considered depending on the application. Some grease exclusive attributes include:

  • Drop Point
  • Mechanical Stability
  • Water Washout
  • Bleed Characteristics
  • Pumpability

Certain attributes are focused specifically on heavy loads and should be considered for heavy load-low speed applications. These include:

  • Four-Ball Tests
  • Timken OK Load

Additionally, industry specific requirements will also dictate grease selection. These industries have strict requirements and require greases to be certified by certain 3rd-party regulators:

Conclusion

Unlike oils, greases have many more factors for product selection. These factors should be considered for each application as each grease is designed and manufacturer specifically for each application and have a delicate balance of thickener, oil, and additives.

Twin Specialties carries a wide variety of greases to meet you application needs. We work directly with you to make sure we provide the right product that delivers performance while being mindful of the total cost of grease and maintenance. Contact Twin Specialties to learn more about our grease product lines.

How to Respond to the EPA Solvent Assessment

In 2020, the EPA determined that 4 common parts-cleaning degreasing solvents pose “unreasonable risks” to workers. Not only, do they pose risks to workers, they also pose significant environmental risks. By 2022, there should be new rules and restrictions governing the use of solvents. This will have significant impacts on your surface finishing processes and your operations. We also do not know what the exact nature of the EPA’s decisions yet. It is crucial to take proactive steps to educate yourself about alternative cleaners and processes to mitigate worker and environmental risks.

What Solvents are the EPA Evaluating?

In 2016, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act became law with broad support from Congress. The law, referred to as “Lautenberg”, amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). TSCA focused primarily on environmental impacts of chemicals and solvents, Lautenberg expanded the TSCA’s scope to include worker exposure: previously, worker exposure was solely under the jurisdiction of OSHA. Lautenberg also ordered the EPA to conduct a new review of chemicals and solvents and their impacts on human health and the environment.

At the end of 2020, the EPA issues a final risk assessment on 10 high priority chemicals. 4 of the 10 chemicals include the following degreasing solvents:

  • Methylene Chloride (MC)
  • Trichlorethylene (TCE): In 2016 EPA placed an alert on TCE as a known carcinogen
  • Perchloroethylene (PCE)
  • N-propyl Bromide (nPB)

The EPA found “unreasonable risks” to workers for all 4 solvents used in vapor degreasing operations. Additionally, trans-1,2-dichloroethylene (trans-DCE) has not yet been evaluated, but will be in the next tier of priority chemicals.

What Happens after the EPA Final Assessment?

Now that the EPA has issued a final assessment, it must now propose a rule with 1 year and finalize the rule within 2 years (end of 2022). What will the new look like? We do not know and the rules will be unique to each solvent as each solvent will present varying levels of risk to workers and the environment. An outright ban of on all 4 solvents is possible, but highly unlikely. A more likely scenario is increasing restrictions on the systems and operations in which these solvents can be used.

Trends indicate that these solvents can and will be used in airless systems. Airless systems prevent aerosolized degreaser to escape and increase worker exposure to droplets. The EPA may also consider the risks to be excessive even in the use of an airless system for 1 or more of the solvents. In the case of nPB, the toxicity limits have been reduced, but the exposure levels can be controlled given the right system. Using aerosol cans may overexpose workers to unreasonable risks, but airless systems might limit exposure to toxicity levels within regulations. Other implementations such as better ventilation, training and PPE could also reduce exposure and help you maintain compliance.

On the other hand, it is possible, but unlikely, the EPA would allow the use of an open top degreaser in certain situations. Whatever the EPA proposes and implements, it is important to be proactive now to ensure a smooth transition to changing products and processes.

What Can You Do Now?

Being proactive will ensure a smooth transition to life under new guidelines. There are many options and alternatives that can replace open top vapor degreasing. Each option has its costs and benefits and it is up to you to decide what is best. Some options include:

  • Implementing an airless system to limit exposure
  • Switching to an environmental, health & safety (EHS) preferred product such as trans-DCE or a “designer solvent”
  • Switching to a new vacuum degreaser using modified alcohol or hydrocarbon blends
  • Using an aqueous cleaning process and alkaline cleaners

These solutions account for the incoming rules, but there are many performance and economic factors to consider. If you plan to switch to an aqueous or airless system, investment in equipment and facilities are necessary and those costs have to be considered. Aqueous cleaners also may not perform as well as solvents in certain instances. This is why the government recognizes the need for solvent cleaning and enacted laws to preserve this process until a better method is discovered.

If you are planning to switch to another solvent, it is important to make sure that is works with existing systems and the cost increases are not substantial. Designer solvents are modified to perform safely, but they are costly. Having an efficient system to use these solvents will save you money in the long run. Solvent manufacturers are aware of these changes, but it is important for you to be proactive and informed too. This testing will vary from job to job and being proactive will allow you to monitor performance and compatibility and select the best solvent.

How Twin Specialties Can Help You?

In addition to provide solvents, Twin Specialties has alternative solvent degreasers, degreaser cleaners, and alkaline cleaners. Our sister company, Gemini Disposal Services, can handle disposal and treatment of used solvents and waste water generated in aqueous cleaning. We are here to help you find manufacturing, cleaning, and disposal solutions. Contact us for more information.

Used Oil vs. Waste Oil

The life of your oil-based lubricant does not end when it is time for a change. In fact, after draining a used lubricant, the oil will begin a new lifecycle thanks to advancements in recycling and recovery technology. 800 million of the 1.3 billion gallons of waste oil produced in the United States is recycled every year. To increase the amount of recyclable oil, manufacturers must collect and disposed of used and waste oil in safe, sustainable, and environmentally way. To achieve this, it is essential to follow best practices for used and waste oil management. However, there are key differences between “used oil” and “waste oil.”

Used Oil Defined

“Used oil” and “waste oil” are often used interchangeably, but the EPA defines them differently. The EPA defines used oil as:

“Used oil is any oil that has been refined from crude oil or any synthetic oil that has been used and as a result of such use is contaminated by physical or chemical impurities.”

This does not include any vegetable or animal-based oils. Simply, this is any petroleum or synthetic oil that has been used in operations and have reached the end of its service life.

Waste Oil Defined

Waste oil is much broader in its definition. Waste oil is “oil that has been contaminated with substances that may or may not be hazardous.” A lot of waste oil has not been used and was contaminated before use. A common example is a loose drum cap leaked and the oil mixed with water, rendering it unsuitable for use in lubrication.

Waste oil is considered a hazardous waste. In terms of regulations and compliance, that makes it a completely different product than “used oil.” That brings more liabilities and procedures needed to ensure it is handled properly. Additionally, used oil with certain additive mixtures and water can be classified as waste oil. Off-spec oils with exceeding amounts of arsenic (5 ppm), cadmium (2 ppm), chromium (10 ppm), lead (100 ppm) and halogens (> 4000 ppm) and a flash point above 100 F will also qualify as waste oil.

Best Practices for Storage and Removal

Even though the contents of waste oil may be similar to used oil, it is still classified as waste oil due to the method in which contamination occurred. Used oil is a by-product of doing business, thus allowable to be stored onsite. One mandatory practice for used oil is labelling the storage tanks correctly. Used oil tanks, drums, totes, containers, etc. must be labelled “Used Oil” in order to be in compliance with environment regulations.

By ensuring not cross-contamination, clearly label containers for waste oil and used oil. This prevents potentially spoiling non-hazardous used oil. Waste oil and used oil may be contain similar content mixes, but whether it is used makes all the difference. If an open or leaking drum is contaminated, it is considered waste oil as the contaminant is not known and not incurred during the course of operations.

One way to avoid accumulation of waste oil is ensuring storage best practices are maintained and the integrity of your drums and totes is maintained. If you store your oil near chemicals and solvents, potentially hazardous contamination can occur and proper waste oil procedures must take place. To save on handling costs of waste oil, consider a lubricant storage program and dedicate space for lubricants away from already-hazardous materials.

Learning from your Used Oil

Before dumping your used oil, it is advised to take a sample of the used oil and used oil filters. You can test the used oil and learn a lot about contamination and oil life. This can be a key part of your oil analysis program and help extend your service life and improve lubrication-related decision making and handling.

Key Takeaways

Proper planning and storage of unused lubricant will reduce the accumulation and likelihood of waste oil. Clearly labelling “Used Oil” and “Waste Oil” tanks will keep your facility in compliance and ensure used oil is not contaminated with hazardous materials. By using certified haulers, like Gemini Disposal Services, and recyclers more oil can be recycled and reduce harmful environmental activity like drilling and pipelines. For example, 1 gallon of used motor oil can provide the same 2.5 quarts of lubricating oil as 42 gallons of crude oil.