Conserving Energy Through Greases


Conserving Energy Through Greases

INDORE, India – Matching the proper grease formulations to the right applications in automotive engines and drivelines can help conserve energy, an expert said at an industry event here.

The significance of fuel conservation is rising because government regulations are pushing vehicle manufacturers to make more efficient engines and drivelines, said Veena Bansal, a senior executive with state-owned Indian Oil Corp. Ltd.

By reducing friction, optimized greases can lower fuel consumption, thereby cutting costs, as well as carbon dioxide emissions, Bansal, general manager for grease at the company’s research and development center, said in February at the annual meeting of the Indian chapter of the United States-based National Lubricating Grease Institute.

But selecting the products that do that can be a challenge, Bansal noted.

To do so requires knowledge of lubrication regimes – boundary lubrication, mixed lubrication and hydrodynamic lubrication – and of operating conditions such as speed, load, pressure and temperature. A basic knowledge of components and behavior of grease, the surface chemistry and lubrication-related conditions – such as churn, traction and friction – is also required, she added.

“Greases should be specifically designed to influence churn, traction and friction through the selection of specific base oils, thickeners and additives,” she told attendees at the event. Bansal noted that base oil viscosity, grease consistency, grease thickness, and performance of friction modifiers are the important properties for reducing friction and energy consumption.

Bansal also said the thickener type and its volume needs to be carefully controlled to reduce churning losses in the formulation of energy efficient greases. “With the proper choice of lubricating grease, we can reduce oil consumption, increase efficiency and extend the life of equipment,” she said.

Talking about greasing methods and lubrication practices, Bansal said the amount of grease packed into the bearing or component also plays a significant role in energy consumption. She added that shorter re-lubrication intervals and optimizing volumes can help in improving equipment life and energy efficiency.

Bansal said that lubricant users are seeing increased corporate pressures to keep costs down and profits high, and the value gained by optimizing lubrication to achieve wear control and energy economy can translate into huge savings for organizations. In the future, energy efficiency will serve as a regular feature in a lubricant’s “technical data sheet,” she added.

Bansal, however, noted that not all advanced lubricants offer efficient energy savings; therefore, operators should closely work with their lubricant suppliers to identify the right lubricant technologies and also do continuous monitoring.

Photo: Aliaksandr Mazurkevich/Dreamstime

A busy roadway in Kolkata, India. Matching the proper grease formulations to the right applications in automotive engines and drivelines can help conserve energy.

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