Researchers synthesize renewable oils for use in lubricants, according to a report published on February 4, 2019.
This renewable oil was developed by the researchers at the University of Delaware. Although lubricants are essential for various applications, it leaves a heavy environmental footprint. As lubricants, oils, greases, and emollients consist of mineral or petroleum base oils, these are highly volatile and tend to thicken quickly, which results in replacing of lubricants, generating waste.
Synthetic base oils are key to efficient lubricants due to its better lubrication properties, stability, and suitability for extreme temperatures compared to their regular mineral-base oils. However, producing them with tunable structures and specifications might be difficult and expensive. This lack of tunability creates a need for mixing the base-oil with several expensive additives, increasing the environmental footprint of lubricants.
The new renewable oils are a solution to this problem. According to their method, renewable lubricant base oils can be obtained efficiently from non-food biomass such as wood, switchgrass, and other sustainable, organic waste. Basu Saha, associate director at CCEI said that catalysis is an important factor for synthesizing these new base-oils. According to the researchers, produced base oils find various applications without addition of high amounts of additives in the lubricant formulation.
Sibao Liu, one of the co-authors of the paper said, “We've provided a new, efficient and versatile catalytic reaction pathway for synthesis of renewable lubricants with tunable properties. We hope this could eventually displace the manufacturing process for some lubricants used today and minimize environmental carbon footprint, though there is still a long way to go.”
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