Lubricating grease isn’t often the stuff of drama or danger. But under rare conditions, it appears that certain PTFE thickened greases being applied with high-pressure pumps can actually explode, warns the research head of one of Europe’s largest specialty lubricant manufacturers.
Speaking last week to the National Lubricating Grease Institute’s annual meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., Martin Schmidt-Amelunxen said that on at least three occasions, silicone-based lubricating grease containing PTFE has exploded during seemingly normal operations at end-user facilities. As head of research and product development at Kluber Lubrication in Munich, Germany, he investigated some common links in the explosions — the type of grease, the PTFE additive, and the use of high-pressure pumps. Now he wants end-users and grease suppliers to be alert for the conditions that may lead to similar unexpected blow-outs in their equipment, and to take steps to avoid them.