Efficient Plant April 2020 - 17

feature | lubrication strategies

Classify
Lubricants
As Assets
Lubricants should be
listed as an asset in
your sustainability
program, along with
robots, pumps, motors,
and conveyors.

Oil and grease are assets, not consumables, and should be part of your sustainability program.
Mark Barnes, PhD CMRP, Des-Case Corp.

ACCORDING TO THE U.S. Energy Information Association
(US-EIA, eia.gov), the industrial sector accounted for 32% of all
energy consumption in 2018, with chemical production, refining,
and mining the three largest consumers of energy. While a large
percentage of the energy used goes into heating and cooling (AC and
refrigeration), a significant portion is used in the form of electricity
to provide lighting and power to manufacturing equipment.
Furthermore, in a 2017 study (K. Holmberg, A. Erdemir, "Influence of tribology on global energy consumption, costs and emissions," Friction 5, 263-284, 2017), researchers from Finland and the
U.S. estimated that approximately 23% of energy consumed was
in response to "tribological contacts," of which 20% was used to
overcome friction. Since the primary job of a lubricant is to reduce
friction, you could argue that lubrication-good or bad-influences
as much as 20% of our total energy usage.

THE CORRECT LUBRICANT
To reduce the amount of energy lost every year due to poor lubrication, there are several simple steps we can take. The first is to select

APRIL 2020

EP2004flube.indd 17

the proper lubricant. Rotating and reciprocating assets ride on a
film of oil. That film thickness is based on the lubricant speed, load,
temperature, and viscosity. Too low a viscosity and metal-tometal contact will occur, resulting in wear and frictional losses. If the
viscosity is too high, viscous drag will occur, requiring more energy
to overcome fluid friction.
However, viscosity is not the only selection criterion. The type of
oil can also influence frictional losses. For example, synthetics and
other premium lubricants have been shown to reduce energy losses
in certain compressors, gearboxes, and electric motors by as much
as 4% to 15%. The reduction is due to a combination of increased
lubricity from better additive packages and, in particular, the more
uniform molecular size of synthetic-based oil molecules that create
a lower traction coefficient (less internal fluid friction). This requires
less force to move a load supported by an oil film. In applications
where there is a high degree of sliding motion, such as multi-stage
worm drive, efficiency gains of 6% to 8% have become possible by
switching to synthetic lubricants.
Grease selection is also a concern. While selecting a grease with
EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM |

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3/26/20 3:35 PM


http://www.eia.gov http://www.EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

Efficient Plant April 2020

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