Achieving Peak Performance in Extreme Service

Achieving Peak Performance in Extreme Service Applications
Investing in A Customized Synthetic Lubricant Solution
By Garrett M. Grega, Global Marketing Manager, Anderol
As application requirements change and priority is placed on equipment reliability, maximizing
performance of extreme service applications requires making an investment in a lubricant solution that
also optimizes business goals. Creating a win-win formula results when the proper additives and base oil
create a chemical balance that enhances low temperature fluidity, heavy-load production, high levels of
detergency or other industry-specific challenges. However, with so many products on the market,
successful companies must learn to accurately leverage the features of market-tailored lubricants to reap
the benefits of machinery investment and increased profitability. They must also understand what to look
Why Synthetics Work
Since synthetic lubricants are tailored at the molecular level, their properties are specifically chosen for
the characteristics they impart on a lubricant’s performance, including quick adherence, rust prevention,
and water oxidation. For instance, esters are often selected for compressors due to their high thermal
stability, low temperature properties, inherent detergency and molecules that promote fluidity. With these
characteristics, esters are able to carry more loads than a straight mineral oil and more readily adhere to
surface metals. These cling properties help modify friction to mitigate equipment wear and decrease
downtime or expensive maintenance.
Polyalkalene glycols also have metal promoting components, extending a synthetic’s load carrying
ability. Having a polar nature, glycols align themselves with metal surfaces and protect gears from the
negative impact of extreme load processing that often leads to loss or replacement. As such, polyakalene
glycols are often used as lubricants for equipment undergoing extensive sliding contact such as worm
gears. When applied, the additive in a synthetic lubricant improves and shelters equipment from increased
production loads without creating emergency shutdowns or untimely maintenance.
Due to their excellent low-temperature properties, polyalphaolefins (PAOs) have long been the synthetic
ingredient of choice for many applications in part due to their hydrolytic stability and strong oxidative
properties. PAO’s narrow molecular weight distribution offers much lower volatility, when compared to
an equivalent ISO grade mineral oil. Moreover, their hydrocarbon nature makes them compatible with
other mineral oils, creating a non-interruptive transition when replacing with a synthetic. And like other
synthetics, the absence of wax promotes a fluidity at low temperatures that ensures critical machinery
components are consistently getting the lubrication needed for stable processing. As a result of these
varied benefits, PAO’s are important in applications conducted at well-below freezing temperatures to
prevent clogging and lubrication.
The Right Additives
Synthetics have achieved success throughout many critical applications based on additive technologies
formulated to solve industry-related challenges and extend equipment performance. Key to performance
success is having a proper chemistry balance. When synthetic lubricants are formulated to increase a
lubricant’s life, gear performance or productivity, antioxidants and load-carrying additives, such as sulfurphosphorous chemistries, are the most common ingredients. The first provides for increased operating
temperature ranges and the second helps prevent the negative instances of metal-to-metal contact.
What makes antioxidants unique is their sacrificial nature. Once they bind with a radical molecule or a
degraded molecule, they are consumed and cannot be replaced. What’s more, as these molecules become
more complex, they increase the molecular intensity to extend equipment life, without hindering
performance. Antioxidants properties are also known to slow the degradation rate of the oil, resulting in
the need for fewer lubricant change outs, promoting business costs savings.
Antioxidants Table
Operating Regime (deg F)
Drain Intervals
N- Phenyl- 1Naphthylamine
“Future Chemistry”
The above table shows that as the antioxidant chemistry becomes more complex, the lubricant operating
regime increases. One may tradeoff increased operating temperatures with longer drain life.
Formulating Balance
Achieving optimum load carrying capacity requires an adequate mixture of sulfur and phosphorous
chemistry to mitigate metal-to-metal contact. The main priority is to ensure the right adsorption is taking
place at the metal surface since both elements have different affinities to metal. Specifically, sulfur
adsorbs to the surface creating a molecular film layer that can later react to form sulfides. Phosphorous,
having a different metal affinity, tends to “bind” itself to the surface. In addition, the choice of base
stocks may have a profound effect on the load carrying additive performance. This becomes yet another
consideration when formulating an extreme service lubricant.
Having the proper ratio of each element prevents molecular competition where opposing effects result in
surface “gaps” leaving the metal surface subject to attack. Instances of proper protection are realized
when the right additive element is allowed to work at the right time. For example, if the goal is to inhibit
the impact of frictional wear, the presence of a rust inhibitor must not interfere with a wear inhibitor’s
ability to create a bond with the metal surface that enhances machinery operability.
Other negative impacts are witnessed when phosphorous molecules are “sheared” through various
contacts with the opposing surface, creating molecular sized occlusions that make the surface vulnerable
to chemical attacks. Deciphering an accurate formula between antioxidants, extreme pressure, anti-wear,
rust inhibitors, metal deactivators, and antifoam agents and base oils is best left up to expert lubricant
Cold-weather Solutions
Finding an effective, extreme-weather solution that meets the cold temperature API specifications for the
oil and gas industry has long been a significant challenge. Specially formulated synthetics are leading the
pack due to unique base-stock compositions able to solve premature equipment wear, downtime and
inadequate pump jack flow. These solutions are ideal for regions accustomed to nine-month winters -such as in Northern Canada. And with this availability, processors are estimated to realize not only lowtemperature pumpability, 14% (on average) reduced energy consumption, decreased start-up torque and
5% lowered amperage -- ultimately driving down business costs.
These numbers come from comparative testing to see how synthetics weigh against mineral based
products. Overall, it has been determined that a synthetic’s superiority derives from a selective chemistry
coupling wear with heavy load additives to readily meet potential threats defined by oil pumping in frigid
temperatures, while bringing cost savings. For example, because synthetics have proven to be cleaner,
costly repair and maintenance is minimized. Other savings are expected from the need of 5-year change
outs as opposed to three -- maximizing equipment investment. And, synthetics outperform minerals in
terms of a lower viscosity index, pour point and a more obvious separation from water, lessening
appearances of rust and corrosion, protecting against outright replacement.
Avoiding Micropitting
Advanced synthetic technology has also been used to create PAO-based products to serve industrial
processing equipment prone to micropitting or a failure of high shock-loaded systems. Designed with
high-temperature capacity, these specialty lubricants are currently being assessed on machinery, including
wind turbines. Results of a 250+ four-ball wear demonstrate superior anti-wear performance at elevated
loads and temperatures. What’s more, available synthetics prevent appearances of micropitting,
commonly characterized by small (less than 10 microns) visual gray specs on the gear teeth often causing
catastrophic gear impediments and downtime.
The most obvious differentiator of synthetics are their excellent strength able to negate negative impacts
of excessive load processing as well as a cleanliness that keeps machines running at peak. Other benefits
include machine longevity and consistent performance. Once again, these positive results come from
specialized extreme application formulas, able of anticipating and solving processing challenges their
competitive counterparts have not been engineered to handle.
As the need for industrial business efficiency continues to grow, the more important maintenance
becomes of critical machinery applications. Making this process simple requires a strategic approach to
lubrication that weighs in the benefits of industry specific products created to meet specific challenges
ranging from heavy loads to low temperature fluidity. And, as lubricant technology continues to advance
companies must take the time to investigate all available products to ensure processing and manufacturing
is consistent and profitable investment over the long term.
For more information, please contact, ANDEROL at +1 (973)-887-741, e-mail or go