Making synthetic grease
Challenges: Manufacturing grease for automotive and industrial markets provides plenty of opportunities and challenges. Greases are complex, multiphase systems that must:
- Stay in place during intermittent or constant operation
- Seal against contamination and moisture
- Lubricate machine elements, such as bearings, gears, slideways and joints
As equipment builders downsize equipment, operating conditions continue to increase in severity (higher loads, higher speeds and temperatures) with lower grease quantities. Grease performance must continue to evolve to extend service life, extend regreasing intervals and reduce maintenance costs.
How we can help: To help you meet and exceed these demands, we provide state-of-the-art synthetic base stocks, including next-generation SpectraSyn Elite™ metallocene polyalphaolefin (mPAO) and Synesstic™ alkylated naphthalene (AN). SpectraSyn Elite mPAO provides higher viscosity index (VI), enhanced film thickness, improved oxidative stability, and a step-change in low-temperature flow and bearing torque requirements compared to industrial and automotive mineral-oil greases. Synesstic AN can improve grease yield and provide even greater thermal and oxidative stability than conventional PAOs (cPAO) or mineral-oil greases.
Formulating grease with mPAO base stocks
Metallocene PAO base stocks offer grease formulators improved performance compared to mineral oil and conventional PAO:
- Broader operating temperature due to higher viscosity index
- Improved wear protection via enhanced film thickness
- Improved grease flow and lower bearing torque at lower temperatures
Formulating grease with alkylated naphthalene
Alkylated naphthalene’s enhanced solvency provides grease formulators with:
- Improved hydrolytic stability vs. esters
- Improved yield or thickener efficiency vs. cPAOs
- Greater oxidative stability and bearing life enhancement vs. cPAOs
Global grease production has held relatively firm since 2010, with a 0.3% CAGR. We do see growth trends, however, within the grease market.
1. Growth of synthetic base oils
The grease market is approximately 90% mineral oil based. Synthetic base oil currently constitutes 3.5% of the market but has grown by 6% since 2010 to satisfy increasing demand for higher performance. Compared to mineral oil-based grease, synthetic greases provide enhanced performance in wider temperature ranges, at increased operating speeds, under increasing loads and power densities, and in equipment located in more remote areas that require longer product life.
2. Growth of specialty greases
In grease formulations, the more specialized the requirements, the greater the need for high-performance synthetic greases. We continue to see growth in specialized greases, including:
- Higher temperature greases
- Longer life greases for sealed bearings
- Food grade greases
- Greases with alternate thickeners
- Greases compatible with generic and customized additive packages
- Biodegradable greases
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