July 14, 2009

New ‘green’ lubricating grease is created

Spanish scientists at the University of Huelva say they've developed an environmentally friendly lubricating grease based on ricin oil and cellulose.

The researchers said their formula does not include any of the contaminating components usually used to manufacture traditional industrial lubricants.

The objective of this research was to develop a product that could be used as a lubricating grease, but that was made only from natural materials and was therefore 100 percent biodegradable, Jose María Franco, a chemical engineer and co-author of the study, said.

The new environmentally-friendly grease uses cellulose derivatives from plants and ricin oil from a bush in the Euphorbiaceae family as a lubricant base, the scientists said. Franco said the new formulation is an alternative to traditional lubricating greases, which create pollution that is difficult to combat once discharged into the environment.

Lubricants used in industry are made from non-biodegradable components and, currently while the best performers, they also create more environmental problems.

The researchers said they will continue to investigate a way of balancing the use of biodegradable ingredients to manufacture the grease, while also optimizing its lubricating capacity.

The discovery was recently reported in the journal Green Chemistry.