Throughout 2021, there have been numerous disruptions across various supply chains, often occurring consecutively or even simultaneously. This year saw a winter freeze in Texas, to two different plants burning down, hurricanes hitting the Gulf causing plant shut downs, and ongoing shortages of drivers creating logistical nightmares to name a few such disruptions.
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.
There is a shipping container shortage.
Shipping containers are stuck at ports due to trucking shortages.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
Certain attributes are focused specifically on heavy loads and should be considered for heavy load-low speed applications. These include:
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:
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.
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
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
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.
After machining parts, manufacturers have to clean them. Once clean, the parts may be painted, assembled, or stored with a rust inhibitor coating. That makes cleaning crucial. Poor cleaning could lead to rust, uneven painting or failure in assembly. Many manufacturers do not have the time or budget to rapidly change out (1-day to 1-week intervals) cleaning tanks; if you are fortunate to have short intervals, little maintenance is required as there is limited time for problems to arise. However, you should still perform basic tests to ensure your cleaner is working properly.
For manufacturers with longer tank life, there are 2 main properties to monitor to ensure the performance of your alkaline cleaner: pH and concentration. When the pH and concentration change, the efficacy of the cleaners can decline and lead to more frequent change-outs and greater cleaner consumption. Basic monitoring can prove to be highly cost effective and extend tank life.
The ability to remove soils declines as the cleaner’s pH drops. The recommended pH for cleaning non-aluminum parts is > 9.0 and > 9.5 for aluminum parts. Additionally, many corrosion inhibitors have a pH-dependent solubility curve. As the pH drops, less inhibitor is incorporated into the solution and the more likely corrosion on cleaned parts can occur. These inhibitors start to drop around 10.2 pH, but do not cause significant issues until the pH drops below 9.5.
Maintenance programs typically attempt to adjust the pH back into range after falling out rather than monitoring the pH for remaining in range. We recommend the latter method as this ensures the pH does not drop dangerously low and potentially renders the solution unusable. Trying to keep the pH between 9.5 (or higher) and 10.5 is ideal. Adding a caustic to boost pH could cause problems as you will get a false concentration reading. If you plan to adjust the pH, have a qualified on-site analytical chemist perform the adjustments.
To measure the pH, pull a sample of agitated solution and wait for it to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, use a narrow range pH strip to test the pH. Higher temperatures can render pH tests unreliable and measuring in the tank could capture the pH of contaminants on the strip.
The other key test involves testing the concentration using titration. Titration is used to find the tank strength (concentration). Titration involves adding an acidic reagent to a know volume of tank solution until a defined pH is reached. This can be done simply by adding drops of a reagent to the tank solution. This process involves a dye that changes colors at the defined pH endpoint. This is useful for finding the concentration with a +/- 2% tolerance.
This method is rather crude, but can be highly refined by having a trained chemist use lab equipment to run the test. Lab equipment is required for tests that require tighter tolerances than +/- 2%. Look for a constant concentration over time. If the concentration drops, some likely suspects are: cleaner carry-out, leaks, overly aggressive oil skimming, pH degradation by contaminants, and excessive raw material stripping. If the concentration increases, some likely suspects are: excessive add-back of cleaner or the presence of metalworking fluids. Sometimes soil could affect the strength reading and could indicate rising concentration or stable concentration when the strength is actually dropping.
The pH and concentration tests should be conducted each shift in the manner described above. Investing in lab equipment may prove worthwhile if you have stringent tolerances. If the concentration is too low, add some cleaner to put the solution in the proper range. If too high, add water to bring solution within the proper range. pH adjustment is not recommended unless you have a trained chemist on-site. For more information on cleaner management, contact Twin Specialties and ask about our “Coolant Management Guide” that includes tips and information for aqueous cleaners.
After an extended production shutdown, it is imperative to get restarted quickly and efficiently. Maintaining your coolant can be the difference between success and failure. It is key to clean, refill (if necessary), and run according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
These steps will depend on whether you emptied the sump before the shutdown. If you have emptied the coolant, ensure that the machine is cleaned out; Astro-Clean A can be used to clean the machine and remove and residual coolant and contamination in tough to reach places.
If your coolant remains in the sump after the shutdown, follow these steps for a successful restart:
Inspect the coolant sump/tank for any problems.
Remove any tramp oil by using skimmers.
Remove any swarf or solids with filters or skimming nets.
If there are significant solids, the tank and machine should be cleaned out before proceeding.
Do not add any coolant unless there is not enough to circulate through the machine. If you need to add coolant, add coolant at or above the target concentration.
Circulate coolant through ALL pumps for 60 minutes to ensure all nozzles are flushed out.
Check the concentration from the nozzle using a refractometer (either manual or digital).
Top off the sump to 95% capacity to the target concentration + 2%.
Check the pH and odor. Test the pH from the nozzle.
If it is too low (8-9 pH), add 3% volume of coolant and circulate for 30 minutes. Repeat until pH is acceptable.
If pH is below 8, the coolant is spent and must be replaced. Use Astro-Clean A to clean out machine.
Add fresh coolant to bring tank/sump volume to 100%.
Bonus Tip: To keep coolant fresher during shutdowns, run skimmers and fish-tank fans to prevent tramp oil contamination and coolant breakdown. Circulating the sump coolant may reduce odor.
Following these steps will ensure a successful restart. Equally important is continuous monitoring of the sump/tank. One individual should check concentration daily and pH weekly. If something is off, act accordingly and quickly. Keep records in a coolant log for each machine to ensure continued success.
In drawing processes, there two main types of lubrication. Firstly, there is fluid or hydrodynamic lubrication, which is the separation of metal surfaces with a continuous film of lubricant that prevents contact of those metal surfaces. Secondly, there is boundary lubrication, which is separating metal surfaces by a film only a few molecules thick.
The drawing process generates extreme pressures and the lubricant needs to perform to ensure proper separation of metal surfaces.
Factors for Drawing Fluid Selection
There are many factors that will affect lubricant selection. We will examine these factors and how they may affect lubricant selection and use. Considering these factors will ensure proper separation and excellent performance.
Type of Metal
Not all metals are alike. The first classification for metals is whether it is ferrous, non-ferrous, or an alloy. The hardness of metal will also be a key factor. Harder metals will require higher pressures, thus higher operating temperatures. A harder metal will need a lubricant that provides excellent cooling to prevent poor finishes or melting. Resistance to rust and corrosion varies metal to metal. Porous metals, such as cast iron, are porous and can rust quickly during annealing. Applications with those kinds of metals may require a lubricant that has rust/corrosion preventative additives.
Severity of Operations
The severity of the operation will be key to determining what kind of lubricant you need. Operations with extreme pressures may require lubricants with extreme-pressure and anti-wear additives to maintain proper lubrication. Operating speeds play a key role in determining the viscosity needed. Higher speeds will require lower viscosities so that the lubricant will adequately circulate. As temperatures rise, viscosity can degrade quickly. When the lubricant becomes too “thin” or “runny”, proper separation may be lost. Some lubricants will include viscosity index (VI) improvers to help maintain proper fluid thickness as temperatures rise.
The tooling used in drawing may affect the lubricant selection. Some of the tools used in drawing include:
Dies for cold drawing
Rolls for forming strips and shapes
The material of the tools also matters. In high temperatures, tool life may diminish and a lubricant that extends tool life improves performance and reduce costs. Tooling can be made of the following materials:
Diamond (synthetic or natural)
Subsequent Processes and Applications
Once a workpiece has completed the metal working process, most likely it still has to go through more manufacturing processes. Some of these include: annealing, cleaning, painting, and assembly into the final product. Cleaning the workpiece is import for final assembly as you want to avoid rust and corrosion. Drawing fluids that are emulsifiable are easier to clean and are preferred by some manufacturers. The cleaning process used also matters. Whether you use a dip tank, spray washer, or vapor degreaser, selecting a fluid that can wash away while also reducing rust and corrosion will be dependent on the cleaning process. Many fluid manufacturers, such as Twin Specialties, supply cleaners that are developed with their drawing fluids in mind.
With limited budgets, manufacturers must be pragmatic in selecting a fluid. Opting for a less expensive product may have hidden costs that are not realized at time of purchase. Lower quality fluids may reduce tool life and the fluid itself may need to be changed more frequently. These costs can add up and may not be realized until the job is completed. If your budget allows for it, opting for a synthetic fluid may prove to be a smart choice. Even though lubricants do not make up most of the budget, selecting the right lubricant can create tremendous cost savings on other parts of the income statement.
Each manufacturer has unique conditions and budgets; thus, no lubricant can be a one-size-fits-all product. Analyzing your metal workpieces, operations, tooling, cleaning and assembly processes, and budget will provide clarity. That clarity can aid lubricant selection and allow you to focus more on your manufacturing.
Working with manufacturers and distributors to determine the proper lubricant is the best strategy to maximize efficiency and boost the bottom line. Twin Specialties can analyze your processes and budget considerations to find the optimal lubricant.
DEF, also known as Diesel Exhaust Fluid, is an aftertreatment fuel system liquid that is used in diesel engine vehicles to reduce air pollution. Specifically, DEF is designed to reduce the concentration and emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx), by converting nitrogen monoxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) molecules into:
Harmless nitrogen molecules, which are the most abundant in our atmosphere
Carbon dioxide, which is harmless to humans, but still plays a role in climate change
By transforming harmful emissions into harmless gases, DEF plays a key role in reducing emissions over the past few decades. The 2010 EPA Emission Requirements for diesel engines are:
0.2g/HP-hr of NOx
0.1g/HP-hr Particylate Matter
Looking at the chart to the right, DEF has helped reduce emissions by 98% since the late 1980s. This has led to a cleaner environment with less “black” fuel exhaust. These results have made DEF and essential fluid for all diesel engine vehicles.
Ingredients & DEF Standards (ISO 22241)
Sometimes to solve complex problems, all you need is a simple solution. DEF is a simple product consisting of only 2 ingredients: urea and deionized water. With such a short ingredient list, why would it be tough to manufacture DEF? In order for DEF to work effectively and protect your engine and fuel system, DEF must be made with extremely pure urea and water. These purity requirements are clearly defined in ISO 22241, Diesel Engines – NOx Reduction Agent, Aqueous Urea Solution (AUS 32). Additionally, DEF products that meet ISO 22241 may be licensed to display the API DEF Certification.
What requirements are needed to meet the ISO 22241 standard? Each ingredient has the following requirements:
Technically Pure Urea with traces of biuret, ammonia, and water only. Urea that is free of aldehydes or other substances such as anticaking agents. The urea is to be free of contaminants such as sulfur, chloride, nitrate, or other compounds.
Water with very low inorganic, organic, or colloidal contaminants. This is achieved by single distillation, deionization, ultra-filtration, or reverse osmosis.
Using these purified ingredients, DEF must have a urea concentration of 32.5%. This ensures that enough urea is present to convert the NOx and ensures reliable operation of the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems. It is also the concentration that produces the lowest freezing temperature of 12 F. If the fluid does not meet these ISO 22241 standards, it cannot be classified or called a diesel exhaust fluid.
How does it Work?
Now that we have found the fluids needed to convert the NOx, we need the technology and equipment to catalyze those chemical reactions. The most common systems used are Selective Catalytic Reduction systems (SCR). The SCR allows the following chemical reaction to occur:
Water evaporates and urea decomposes into ammonia and isocyanic acid
Isocyanic acid reacts with the water vapor and hydrolyzes into carbon dioxide and more ammonia
In the presence of oxygen and a catalyst, ammonia reduces NOx into nitrogen and water
SCRs have proven to be the most effective solution in reducing NOx emissions. SCRs are the only solution that curbs emissions without compromising fuel efficiency and engine performance. As an aftertreatment system, a system that does not work within the engine, SCRs allow engineers to tune engines that can help performance and efficiency. All diesel vehicles produced today have some sort of SCR built in.
SCRs also have safeguards in place to ensure a diesel engine is not operating without a proper amount of DEF. Many vehicles have warning systems to warn operators to refill their DEF tanks. If those fail, engines will shut down and will not engage until there is a sufficient amount of DEF in the tank to reduce any NOx produced by the engine. It is important for operators to monitor the DEF tank just like they would their fuel tank.
Benefits and Costs of DEF
With increased fuel efficiency, many fleets are noticing around a 5% fuel savings compared to older models. Off-road vehicles and equipment that use SCRs and DEF can see fuel savings well beyond 5%. With large fleets, that 5% can add up significantly over many vehicles and miles.
The DEF needed to properly reduce NOx is generally 2-6% of a vehicles fuel consumption (e.g. 2-6 gallons of DEF needed for every 100 gallons of diesel fuel consumed). To figure out your DEF needs, simply determine: miles driven by your vehicle, miles per gallon (MPG), and DEF dosing rate (2-6%). By dividing miles driven by the MPG, you find your fuel consumption. Multiply your fuel consumption by the dosing rate to get your required DEF volume.
The cost of the DEF is the only extra cost to SCR systems, but those costs can easily be offset (and then some) with the 5% fuel savings. The weight of a full DEF tank is only 5-9 lbs., which is negligible in large commercial vehicles. In passenger cars with diesel engines, typically you need to fill your DEF tank at each oil change. Fortunately, a 2.5-gallon container of DEF can be found for under $20 at most retailers.
Storing and Handling DEF
DEF has a freezing/crystallization point of 12 F. As DEF freezes into a crystalline slush, its volume can expand as much as 7%. Many vehicles have heating elements that ensure in-tank DEF does not freeze or threaten vehicle failure. Freezing does not affect the efficacy of the product, but it is important to store it in tanks at appropriate temperatures.
The shelf life of DEF is about 1-2 years, but could be reduced if the fluid is exposed to direct sunlight or stored at temperatures above 86 F. The water can evaporate in tanks, so it is important to keep the tanks sealed and at an ambient temperature around 75 F. If the fluid evaporates, do not add your own mixture as that can upset the precise chemical balance of manufactured DEF.
Where to get DEF
For commercial fleets and clients, speak with a distributor about solutions and certified products. Twin Specialties offers DEF in drums, totes, and bulk. Additionally, we can work with certain businesses interested in buying larger amounts of retail/consumer-packaged DEF products. Individuals who drive a diesel-engine vehicle can purchase bottles or DEF at gas stations, hardware stores, or auto shops. As diesel-engine vehicles become more popular, especially in Europe, many gas stations are adding AdBlue pumps where drivers can pump DEF directly in their car from the pump for cost savings.
During the winter months and in cold weather regions, operators will face cold starts regularly and must select lubricants that ensure proper performance and protect your machine or engine. We will focus on key features that will differentiate lubricants that excel in cold weather and lubricants that will lead to machine or engine failure.
Not all cold starts are equal. There are varying temperatures and the lubricant you need will depend on the ambient temperature. If temperatures are below -20 C/- 4 F, it is recommended to use base oils that can flow in low temperatures. For engine oils, using an SAE 0W or SAW 5W grade lubricant is recommended. When the temperature drops below -30 C/- 22 F, operators should use a SAE 0W or SAE 5W lubricant, but whose base oil is a synthetic base stock and/or a base oil that is considered “multi-grade” or “multi-viscosity.”
Many of these multi-viscosity and multi-grade lubricants are designed for extreme weather conditions including cold start conditions. These lubricants maintain their viscosity better than conventional lubricants. Generally, multi-viscosity lubricants exhibit viscosity characteristics found in 2 different ISO viscosity grades (i.e. ISO 32-46) and multi-grade lubricants exhibit viscosity characteristics found in 3 different ISO viscosity grades (i.e. ISO 32-46-68).
When the temperature drops, the lubricant becomes more viscous, thus making it more difficult to circulate and flow through the engine or machine. Having a lubricant with a high viscosity index, defined as a viscosity index greater than 130, ensures that your lubricant better maintains its viscosity in extreme temperatures. Lubricants with high viscosity indices have either a highly refined or synthetic base stock or include viscosity index improver additives.
Monograde lubricants will have viscosity indices in the 95-105 range and will not perform as well as in cold start conditions. Many operators will use different monograde lubricants depending on the ambient temperature. This may cause issues with change outs and cold temperature properties.
As mentioned earlier, not all cold starts are created equal. In colder temperatures, a lubricant’s pour point could be the difference between success and failure. Pour point is defined as when a lubricant no longer flows and congeals. When operating in temperatures below -30 C/-22 F, it is imperative to use a lubricant with a pour point lower than -50 C/-58 F. Similar to viscosity index, lubricants with highly refined or synthetic base stocks have lower pour points. Some lubricants are manufactured with pour point depressants that prevent wax formation and the congealing of the lubricant.
Oil Integrity and Storage
While you can meticulously select the perfect lubricant based on your OEM requirements, ambient climate, and budget, it could be costly if you do not maintain it properly. Just like any oil, it is important to regularly check the oil for cleanliness and contamination. Taking regular samples is key to ensure your lubricant and machine is in good health. When storing lubricants. It is helpful to store the lubricant indoors or in a warmer environment so that it flows easily during start-up. Proper storage will also protect against contamination. If contaminated, the additives such as VI improvers or pour point depressants may not be as effective and could hurt lubricant performance.
In any oil-based lubricant the base oil will compose 80-99% of the product you use. What are differences in the main ingredient of your lubricant? The American Petroleum Institute classifies base oils into 5 groups. These classifications are based on the chemical composition of the base oil and the treatment of the base oil.
If a base oil is classified as Group I-III, that base oil will be composed of crude oil that has been treated. The differences depend on the treatment processes applied to the oil.
Petroleum Base Oils
Group I base oils are the least refined base oil. Two main characteristics of Group I base oils are that they are composed of less than 90% saturates and/or greater than 0.03% sulfur. If either of these conditions are satisfied, then the base oil will be classified as Group I. The only process that is used is solvent refining, which allows Group I base oil products to be cheaper than their more refined equivalents. These are generally used for less-demanding applications and could be ideal for applications where lubricant consumption is high.
Group II base oils are more refined than Group I. In addition to solvent refining, these oils are also hydrocracked purify the oil. Unlike Group I base oils, these base oils must contain over 90% saturates and less than 0.03%. The greater percentage of saturates gives these lubricants better antioxidation properties than Group I base oils.
Failure to meet either of these requirements will result in a Group I classification. These products also have a viscosity index of 80-120. These oils have good performance in volatility, oxidation stability, wear prevention, and flash point. They only have fair performance in cold temperature environments. Given costs of treatment today, Group II lubricants are most commonly used today and many users have switched from Group I oils to Group II oils.
Unofficially, there is a Group II+ that are composed of high-end Group II base oils. These base oils must have a viscosity index of 110-120 to be considered Group II+.
Group II base oils must meet the same conditions (saturates and sulfur) as Group II, but also must have a viscosity index greater than 120. These base oils are severely hydrocracked, hydroisomerized, and hydrotreated to crate the best grade of petroleum base oil. These products offer superior stability and molecular uniformity, which makes them ideal for some semi-synthetic lubricants.
Some people consider Group III base oils to be synthetic. The API classifies them as mineral oil since they are derived from crude oil. They do mimic characteristics of synthetic oils including high viscosity indices. A lawsuit between Mobil and Castrol occurred due to Castrol marketing their Syntec lubricant as a synthetic even though it was composed of Group III base oils. In a 1999 ruling, the product was allowed to marketed as a synthetic.
Many people reject the decision and only consider Group IV and Group V base stocks as “synthetic.” Some Group III lubricants outperform Group IV lubricants if they contain excellent anti-wear, anti-oxidant, and other additives. Similar to Group II, Group III base oils have an unofficial Group III+, which consist of Group III oils that have a “Very High Viscosity Index (VHVI).” The VHVI minimum is anywhere between 130-140.
Synthetic Base Oils
Group IV base oils are synthetic base oils that composed of polyalphaolefins (PAOs). These products have a viscosity index of 125-200. These base oils are not extracted from crude oil, but made from small uniform molecules. The uniformity and manufacturing of these oils allows for predictable properties that assure performance in tough conditions. These properties include extreme temperature stability, which makes these products ideal for cold and hot weather climates.
Lubricants composed of polyinternalolefins (PIOs) are considered to be in the unofficial Group VI. Similar to PAOs, PIOs use different chemicals in its synthesis process to obtain an even higher viscosity index. Their official API classification would be Group V. Certain food grade lubricants are composed of Group IV PAOs.
Group V base oils are any base oil that is not classified as a Group I-IV base oil. Common Group V base oils are polyalkylene glycols (PAGs) and various esters. One exception is white oil, which is a very pure lubricant commonly used in cosmetics and food processing. Also used in food grade lubricants, Group V base oils such as PAGs or esters can be used in certain biodegradable base stocks rather than vegetable or seed oils. It is important to note that most PAGs are only compatible with other PAGs.
When selecting a lubricant, it is important to understand what base oil is used. Given that the base oil is 80-99% of a lubricant, you should know what base oil you are using. Upgrading the Group III or Group IV could improve performance and reduce consumption. Twin Specialties offers a variety of industrial and specialty lubricants made from a variety of base stocks to meet your operating and budgetary requirements.
Chemicals are key for many products in commercial, industrial, and consumer industries. Creating proper formulations is merely the beginning of the process, but manufacturers need a product to use and one that meets whatever specifications necessary to ensure performance, purity, integrity, and safety. These specifications and requirements are outlined by organizations such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), American Chemical Society (ACS), and many others.
Why do Chemical Grades Matter?
These grades indicate the purity and quality of a chemical. Certain applications such as consumer or medical products, require stringent quality standards compared to industrial or educational applications. It is important to know what grade you need so you do not make costly mistakes or non-compliant products.
For example, all drug and drug products in the United States must be in compliance with USP-NF current standards as outlined in the USP-NF Compendium of monographs. Each chemical has a monograph that serves as a standard. These monographs provide information about a chemical’s appearance, solubility, weight, safety, and purity. Purity standards will include testing information and acceptable results. These purity standards help control quality and maintain the integrity of chemicals and end-products. The FDA approves all products and is responsible for compliance and regulation of food, drug, and other consumer products.
What are Some of the Chemical Grades?
There are a variety of chemical grades including industry-wide standards and some specialized for specific scientific applications. We will highlight some common grades used in commercial, industrial, and consumer applications. Some key grades are:
ACS Grade: Chemicals that are ACS grade meet or exceed standards set forth by the American Chemical Society. This is the most stringent grade and requires high purity. Products with ACS grade are acceptable for use in food, drug, or medicinal uses.
FCC Grade: Chemicals that are FCC grade meet standards outlined in the Food Chemicals Codex. The FCC was acquired by the USP, but still uses the Codex for food chemical standards. This applies specifically for food ingredients and includes special tests for toxicity and ensure suitability for human consumption. The FCC is not officially recognized in the United States, but FCC standards are incorporated into hundreds of FDA food regulations.
Lab Grade: Chemicals labelled as Lab Grade have unknown levels of impurities. These are popular for educational or demonstration purposes. However, they fail to meet purity standards for food, drug, or medicinal uses.
Reagent Grade: Chemicals with a Reagent Grade generally equal ACS grade standards. These are acceptable for food, drug, and medicinal use and are suitable for use in many laboratory and analytical applications.
Pharmaceutical Grade (USP): Chemicals with a Pharmaceutical Grade meet or exceed requirements of a national pharmacopeia. The most common pharmacopeia is USP, but these can meet the standards of the British, Japanese, European, and other pharmacopeias. Many countries incorporate USP standards into their own national pharmacopeia.
Technical Grade: Chemicals meeting a Technical grade are used for commercial and industrial purposes. It is not pure enough to be used in any food, drug, or medicinal applications. Like Lab Grade chemicals, these are suitable for demonstration purposes.
Considerations for Selecting a Grade
It is critical to know these grades and which one is required for you process as these grades ascertain: identity, potency, purity, and performance. Having chemicals that are certified ensure your commercial, industrial, or consumer products are in compliance of all standard and regulations. If you need to substitute for cost or availability reasons, it is important to understand these grades as well as the following considers:
What is the minimum grade required? Can I use a lower quality grade?
What are the differences and similarities of the grades considered?
What are the regulatory and economic consequences of the higher or lower grade?
When making a decision on chemical grades, keep these considerations in mind as well as understanding regulatory considerations. Understanding these grades will reduce headaches and confusion and ensure you are making the best product possible. Twin Specialties has a large catalog of chemicals and chemical substitutes that meet your manufacturing need.