Mol-Lub is increasing production capacity at its grease factory in Hungary in order to add calcium sulfonate complex greases to its product portfolio. Officials said demand for calcium greases is rising even as the overall lubricant market in the region shrinks.
Mol-Lub is the lubricant arm of the Hungarian oil major MOL.
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The company produces lubricants at its factory in Almasfuzito, Hungary, which has capacity to make 130,000 metric tons per year of fluid lubes and 15,000 t/y of greases. The site also includes a lubricant additive production facility with capacity of 8,000 t/y.
“Calcium sulfonate and calcium sulfonate complex greases are gaining space in a shrinking lubricant market,” Akos Nemesnyik, head of product development for the company, told Lube Report on Monday. “This was strongly verified by our own market research in the region.”
The Almasfuzito grease plant produces lithium, aluminum complex and calcium sulfonate greases, and such other products as food-grade lubricating greases. The calcium sulfonate complex products are in the development phase, and the company plans to adjust its grease production to secure more capacity by at least 10% before the product hits the marketplace in early 2023.
“These premium grease products have high dropping point, excellent water resistance, and very good mechanical and rolling stability,” Nemesnyik said. “They also have outstanding extreme pressure and anti-wear properties, even without any additives.”
The company ships greases to all the markets of Central and Eastern Europe. For example, Mol-Lub has a strong presence in Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Its greases are also shipped to distant destinations, including Asia and the United States. The new calcium sulfonate complex is also intended for all these markets, the company said.
The long-term strategy is to increase industrial lubricant production, with calcium sulfonate as the thickener of choice, because of a drastic run-up in lithium prices.
“The purchase price of lithium-hydroxide now may be six to eight times higher than at the end of last year,” Nemesnyik said. “Nevertheless, the demand is still stable for premium greases at a reasonable price.”
For its product development, the company tested a wide range of options and raw materials in its updated laboratory.
Parallel to the calcium sulfonate complex, the company is developing a pre-formed thickener.
“The aim is to produce a stable, easy-to-use, easy-to-handle product, to apply for calcium sulfonate complex grease production, that would be similar to the well-known properties of Mol-Lub’s aluminum complex thickener,” he said.