Biobased oxidation protection additives for lubricating fluids

Glass vials with lubricant additives of different colours
Logo of the BMBF

Plant oil based lubricants as an eco-friendly alternative to mineral oil

This project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the 'New products for the bioeconomy' program. The project is being undertaken in collaboration with Carl Bechem GmbH. Up until now mineral oils have dominated the lubricant industry, even though they are harmful for the environment. About 50% of all lubricants end up in the environment causing pollution of the soil, air, and drinking water. The aim of the project is to develop a biological alternative to conventional lubricants based on plant oils such as rapeseed oil and sunflower oil.

Combinations of secondary plant substances (SPSs) increase the oxidative capacity

As plant oils are particularly sensitive to oxidation, additives are required to increase the stability to oxidation. For this project these additives must be biological in nature. These additives are being recovered from various residues from the agriculture and food industries. The secondary plant substances (SPSs) in the residues are the particular focus here. In the plants these substances provide protection against environmental and natural influences such as predators, microbial infection, and UV radiation. It is suspected that there are over 100,000 different SPSs, with carotenoids, phytosterols, saponins, glucosinolates, polyphenols, protease inhibitors, monoterpenes, phytoestrogens, sulfides, and phytic acid being amongst the most important groups. Special attention in this project is being put on polyphenols, which are particularly well known for their antioxidative effect. This functionality will be utilized to protect the plants oils against oxidative stress and to obtain a stable product. The special feature of this research is that several different polyphenols will be combined to enhance the antioxidative effect. This effect is also synergistic, namely the antioxidative effects of individual substances in the lubricant are even further prolonged or strengthened.

Antioxidative lead substances from waste materials from the food and agricultural industries

This research project is looking at ways of utilizing hitherto little used or unused waste materials from the food and agricultural industries. Initially, SPSs will be extracted from waste streams and investigated for their antioxidative properties and their total polyphenol content. HPLC will be used to identify the individual lead substances from different waste materials. Based on this knowledge, suitable combinations will be chosen to generate synergisms. The last step of this project will involve incorporating the best extract mixtures into ester oils and performing analyses.

Currently biological base media are used for lubricants but not additives recovered from purely biogenic waste materials. The Bio-Schmierstoffadditiv project aims to combine biological lubricants with protective bio-additives, so opening up completely new applications. This work may provide stimulus for still further increase in the use of biological lubricants.

The Fraunhofer IVV is coordinating the project and is responsible for the manufacture and characterization of plant extracts in the first work package. This involves optimization of the extraction, the identification of antioxidative lead substances, and the elucidation of synergistic effects between the various plant extracts. Another key task is the manufacture and characterization of the first prototype lubricants to study the antioxidative effect in the target application.

Project term: 2017 to 2019
Project management
/project funding:
Forschungszentrum Jülich
/Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)