Chinese University Helps Market Biobased Lubes


Lubricants made from renewable resources have been slow to penetrate the Chinese market, but some say demand is starting to sprout. The castor oil engineering research center at Nankai University in Tianjin is trying to carve some space for itself by partnering with blenders to sell lubes made from plant-derived esters, mostly from castor beans.

According to the center, these lubricants are biodegradable, and therefore an ecologically beneficial substitution for products formulated with mineral base oils. The center claims its products have been certified by the United States Department of Agriculture to carry its BioPreferred label.

We are ambitious about the sales, because we think our lubes are in line with Chinese governments vision on sustainable development, said Wang Qingrui, an engineer at Danfer, a Yongkang city, Zhejiang province-based lube supplier that works with the center, at the Auto Maintenance and Repair Expo held by Messe Frankfurt and Mu Cheng You on March 19 in Beijing.

He added that the center is working with regional partners to get biobased lubricants into local government procurement programs, and Danfer is already selling lubes that it refers to as biosynthetic through a nationwide sales network.

He continued that currently the center and Danfer only sell automotive biobased lubes, but they are also looking into the industrial space.

Biosynthetics are biodegradable and have lower toxicity, which we think should be the character of the next generation of industrial oils, Wang said.

Demand for biobased lubricants is low in China. Wang acknowledged that price is a disadvantage for now, and so is the lack of education in the market.

Chinese consumers dont have good knowledge about synthetics, let alone biosynthetics. Lube companies should invest in market education, he said.

Quality-wise, Wang is confident that Danfers biobased lubricants work well for most engines. The company claims its biobased engine oils, available in multiple viscosity grades, reach American Petroleum Institute standards. According to the company, its lubes meet API SN engine oil category requirements covering most viscosity grades, including 0W-40, 0W-20, and 5W-30.

Related Topics