DirectIndustry e-Magazine - #19 - FLUIDS & LUBRICATION - DirectIndustry e-Magazine


More than 18 million tons of lubricant find their way into the ecosystem. Concerns about the environmental impact of fluids and lubricants have resulted in new eco-solutions. But choosing the best option is not that simple. From cryogenics to MQL and oil-based lubricants, our journalists offer a few ideas.

Also in this issue, graphene, the new miracle substance. This 19th issue of DirectIndustry e-magazine shows how this super-thin, super-sensitive and super-strong material is at last finding a place in industry and in some of our everyday products.

More than 18 million tons of lubricant find their way into the ecosystem without any safeguards.

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Concerns about the environmental impact of fluids and lubricants have resulted in new eco solutions. But choosing the best option is not that simple.   Worldwide, more than 50% of lubricants are discharged into the environment, according to the Baden-Württemberg State Environmental Protection Agency. Germany’s RWTH...

Lubricants have been pushed hard to deliver superior engine protection in a lighter form.


Lubrication is needed for everything in the airplane industry, from the landing gear to the gear box for the engines. The safe operation of the aircraft depends on it.

The Lifeblood of the Airplane

Dave Nickson co-founded U.K.-based Sil-Mid, which stocks a wide range of lubricants from manufacturers including Shell Aviation and Henkel Bonderite. He explains that the safe operation of the aircraft depends on lubricants that respond to the higher standards.

An example of this is the aircraft’s wheel bearing grease. For several hours it has been subject to very low temperatures while in the air, but on the wheel making contact with the runway, it must cope with a dramatic rise—and then carry out this role over many cycles before being changed.

Alex Drummond, engineering manager at BCT Aviation Maintenance adds:

Checking, changing and analyzing lubricants forms a vital part of the multitude of checks every aircraft has to go through, from daily right up to D check, where the entire plane is taken apart for inspection. This is because lubrication is the lifeblood of the airplane.

Lighter Lubricants

In the aircraft industry, designers are pushing the envelope with the performance of their machines. As demand for greater fuel economy drives car and engine design, lubricants have been pushed hard to deliver superior engine protection in a lighter, thinner form, sometimes as low as 0w20, explains David Wright, director general of the UK Lubricants Association:

The base oils used for lubricants today are more like water-white medicinal oils in appearance than the heavy black tars that people might suppose them to be. At start-up, a thinner lubricant can get round the engine more easily and protect its moving parts with less power needed to circulate the lubricant. Developments in additive technology have meant that thinner oils’ complex chemical structure can be maintained over more severe operational demands without degradation. 

Global chemical company Chemours has under its umbrella the Krytox lubricant business. Krytox base oil is composed of fluorine, carbon and oxygen (a combination known as perfluoropolyether) and formulated in many variants by adding solvents that effectively protect moving parts from corrosion, wear and extreme loads.  

These lubricants don’t carbonize or deteriorate at high temperatures. They are not only fire-resistant, but also non-flammable and do not ignite, explode or support combustion, even in 100% liquid or gaseous oxygen.

Carl Walther is senior technical service consultant at Chemours.  

 These products are extremely stable and non-reactive with most materials and chemicals, and are capable of performing under extreme conditions. Our very first commercial sales were into the Apollo space program with oxygen safe lubricants.

Courtesy of Shell

Courtesy of Shell


One solution to some of the extreme demands of the aerospace industry are dry (solid) film lubricants (SFLs), which are used in situations where liquid lubricants are not viable. For example, where liquids could contaminate adjacent parts, such as seat belt fasteners or where operating temperatures exceed those that can be tolerated by appropriate wet lubricants like in the engine area.

Jim Rowbotham is managing director of U.K.-headquartered Pexa, the authorized distributor for Everlube Products, which has the widest range of SFLs approved to aerospace specifications.

These surface coatings are not dissimilar to paints but have lubricant properties. Once applied, they remain in place for the life of the component. We supply heat-cured types often used for OEM applications and room-temperature-cured types typically [used] for maintenance applications or substrates, which will not tolerate high temperatures including many aerospace aluminum alloys.

Cutting Fluids

But the demand for specialist lubricants goes back to the metalworking, suggests Edward Jones COO of Hangsterfer’s Laboratories, which specializes in the manufacture of cutting fluids approved by NASA, Airbus and Boeing.

Corrosion is a major concern for the aircraft industry and the main reason these prevent corrosion is that they are chlorine free. Chlorine is often used as an additive to help with the cutting process. Under extreme pressure of the tool-workpiece interface, it will help prevent adhesion of the metal to the cutting tool. Although it can benefit tool life, under high-temperature conditions, if residues of a chlorinated lubricant are inadvertently left on the surface of a part, then corrosion can occur.  

The greatest risk of corrosion from chlorine are ‘hot parts’ like jet engine components. Hangsterfer’s S-500 CF and S-787 cutting fluids are chlorine free and use extreme pressure additives that actually work even better than traditional chlorine additives.

Both cutting fluids therefore lower the cutting forces at the tool-workpiece interface, allowing the metal being cut to flow in a better way, and uninhibited, which creates a better surface quality. This improved surface quality is more resilient to corrosion and reduces surface irregularities.

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    Swiss company Ecocell AG won the Construction & Living category of the GreenTec Awards at IFAT for its sustainable Betonwabe material. Fredy Iseli, company founder, talked to DirectIndustry e-magazine about their “concrete honeycomb”.


    DirectIndustry e-magazine: What is Ecocell’s Betonwabe concrete honeycomb made from?

    Fredy Iseli: Ecocell’s scope of business is the production, construction and planning of residential properties (ECO-Solar modular homes), implementing self-engineered Ecocell building elements, including Betonwabe honeycomb panels. The panels are used in a cost-saving, environmentally sustainable new construction system and are made of 100% renewable resources: wood, fibers, raw paper recovered from recycled paper and cardboard packaging. The raw, corrugated cardboard panels, which are fabricated exclusively for Ecocell, have a hollow cell structure and are then mineral-coated in cement. During this process, the complete surface is evenly coated: The honeycomb panels thus retain their hollow cell structure.

    DirectIndustry e-magazine: What was the inspiration behind Betonwabe?

    Fredy Iseli: Nature. It has perfected lightweight construction—its honeycomb and curved structures provided the inspiration. Maximal compression strength, lightweight construction, low cost, minimal material usage and the protection of the environment have been key throughout the long-term development process. The houses erected by Ecocell all follow a pioneering philosophy: As well as using sustainable building materials, the energetically optimized houses produce their electricity themselves. Photovoltaics on the roof and on the facade and the latest storage systems for electrical energy are applied in the innovative ECO-Solar module houses.

    DirectIndustry e-magazine: How does this system work?

    Fredy Iseli: The components allow the creation of individual properties in dry construction.

    The system is modular and the panels are industrially manufactured with high accuracy. This reduces construction costs and construction time. After mineral coating, the dried elements are planked with wood panels. The sandwich composites are then fabricated into modular building elements, which can be fitted together with ease via tongue and groove joints. Ecocell modular building systems include wall and ceiling elements, as well as a wide and diverse range of connecting and special components.

    DirectIndustry e-magazine: What are Betonwabe’s special properties and advantages in construction?

    Fredy Iseli: High compressive strength—and the concrete honeycomb is also the world’s first heat insulation featuring superior static compression. The densely packed and closed air cells also provide an exceptionally high amount of thermal insulation. They also offer high fire protection: This is due to the cement-coated cell structure and the closed coverage provided by the multilayered wall construction. Finally, Betonwabe is lightweight—even large-scale wall and ceiling components can be erected manually or with light lifting tools on the construction site.

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    At this year’s GreenTec Awards at IFAT, the laureate in the Automobility category went to Germany’s Schaeffler and LuK GmbH & Co. KG, for its E-Clutch. Markus Kneissler, head of development, automated clutches, talked to DirectIndustry e-magazine about the automatized clutch, which takes over from the driver as needed.


    DirectIndustry e-magazine: How did you come up with the concept for the intelligent E-Clutch?

    Markus Kneissler: Forecasts say that the current manual transmission production of 40 million per year will increase slightly within the next decade. Schaeffler already optimizes friction and functionality of many components for both gearbox and clutch—it is time to go one step further. In some regions of the world, people want to drive more comfortably in traffic congestion. Other regions want to reduce CO2 emissions by allowing stop/start of the engine in motion. All regions would like to protect the drivetrain against high peak loads. We found an E-Clutch system would open new possibilities in these areas.

    DirectIndustry e-magazine: How does it work?

    Markus Kneissler: With E-Clutch, an actuator can open and close the clutch without the driver pressing the pedal. The entry solution will do so only while rolling, without a pedal pressed, to save fuel. The engine will either remain idling then at low speed, or be shut down completely and restarted only when a pedal is pressed again. The advanced versions are Clutch-by-Wire, with an electronic clutch pedal, and the Electronic Clutch Management, operated completely without a clutch pedal. The actuator controls the clutch completely in either version, and the clutch can be kept open while shifting and stopping.

    DirectIndustry e-magazine: What makes it so important as a green technology?

    Markus Kneissler: Being able to use the engine only when it is really needed for driving is one of the remaining big potentials for CO2 reduction. It is a technology that has shown relevance in real world driving tests, something which is expected to gain importance regarding the legal requirements of tomorrow.

    DirectIndustry e-magazine: What differentiates it from other greener clutch systems?

    Markus Kneissler: The systems are optimized for low energy consumption. They are able to control the clutch using an internal control unit that communicates via the existing main CAN bus, which makes it easy to integrate it into existing architectures, and the actuators are designed to be operated using conventional hydraulic clutch release systems, so existing base designs can be used.

    DirectIndustry e-magazine: How do you see it paving the way for hybridized drives for new markets?

    Markus Kneissler: Hybrids are doing a great job to reduce CO2 emissions. E-Clutch systems are doing so, too. Together, they can do even better! The hybrid system can restart the engine fast and smoothly, and in some configurations can support driving when the engine is off; the E-Clutch can control the transitions between electrical and conventional driving automatically and reacts as the hybrid system needs it to. E-Clutch and hybrid are simply a perfect team.


    Camille Rustici

    Camille Rustici is a Video Journalist and the Editor-in-Chief for DirectIndustry e-magazine. She has years of experience in business issues for various media including France 24, Associated Press, Radio France…

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    Hicham Dhouibi

    Hicham Dhouibi is a mechanical and process engineer and writer with years of experience in automotive, plastic processing and telecom industries.

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    Abigail Saltmarsh

    Abigail Saltmarsh is a freelance journalist with 25 years’ experience for industry publications (Packaging Europe) and national magazines (The New York Times, International Herald Tribune).

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