Used to reduce friction between two parts as well as to transfer energy,
biodegradable lubricants are environmentally-friendly lubricants since
they are derived from plant and animal based sources. Offering high
thermal and oxidative stability, biodegradable lubricants also provide
high corrosion and wear resistance.
As a less toxic alternative to traditional lubricants, biodegradable lubricants are becoming increasingly popular in industries such as food processing, industrial manufacturing, agriculture, automotive, wastewater, aerospace, commercial, marine and defense. Naturally more viscous as well as having a higher lubricity than conventional petroleum-based lubricants, biodegradable lubricants are often used in applications such as industrial hydraulic fluids, gear lubes, conditioning firearms, bearing greases, transmission line cooling fluids and machinery greases. Also referred to as bio-based lubricants, biodegradable lubricants have been developed by a fairly new technology that is increasing in momentum due to intensified funding for research and increased desire for green alternatives in reaction to warnings of "global warming". Furthermore, the use of biodegradable lubricants decreases foreign dependency on petroleum and provides a renewable lubricant source that is healthy for our environment.
Biodegradable lubricants are typically vegetable-oil based. Although vegetable oils can be used in their natural form, they do not have a high enough oxidative stability for safe usage as a lubricant. As a result, chemical modification has been practiced, as well as the addition of antioxidants to stabilize vegetable oils, but this process can be costly. As a less-expensive alternative, scientists have engineered genetically-enhanced soybean seeds that provide increased oxidative and viscosity stability and do not require additives or modification. In addition to use in industrial lubricants
, genetically-enhanced soybean seeds also have many health benefits and are particularly advantageous in the pharmaceutical industry. The standard vegetable-base oils that are used for biodegradable lubricants include canola oil, sunflower, soybean and rapeseed. For U.S purposes, soybean-based lubricants have the most advantages because soybeans are home-grown and also have an established infrastructure that provides increased economy, quality and quantity when compared to the alternatives. Strictly regulated by the FDA, biodegradable lubricants allow for safe contact between individuals and the lubricant or the machine or product in contact with the lubricant.