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Experiences with lubricants in the Zeeland, Brabant and Utrecht RWS Districts

As early as 1996 the working group Ecological Lubricants was set up within the Dutch Department of Waterways and Public Works (RWS). Its task was to research the (technical) viability of applying lubricants with a lower ecological impact than their conventional counterparts. To gain practical experience, eco-friendlier hydraulic fluids were tested on locks in the Dutch provinces of Zeeland, Noord-Brabant and Utrecht. The results of these tests were published in a report by the Utrecht RWS management. (In Dutch only).

This report provided an overview of the experiences gained from these tests and concluded that in those specific applications, synthetic esters were preferable to (pure) vegetable oils or polyglycols. Some further remarks were formulated:

  • The term synthetic esters includes a wide variety of products that differ greatly in both price and quality. Many are based on vegetable raw materials.
  • The moisture content is an important consideration, since too high a moisture content may affect the hydraulic installation.

It was considered desirable to create a central information service to gather and provide information regarding the developments in and consequences of the application of eco-friendlier lubricants within the RWS.

N.B. some of this information is outdated; new biolubricants (bearing the European Ecolabel and various national ecolabels) have come onto the market, that meet more stringent ecological and technical requirements.

In practice, the RWS’ own contractual requirements can sometimes be problematic. It is not easy to find suitable biolubricants for all applications (e.g. European Ecolabel for oils or Blue Angel for lubricants) that comply with the technical specifications of the local practical conditions. RWS supports pilot projects testing the practical applicability and evaluating possible environmental gain and improved energy-efficiency.

More information on experiences with the application of and switching to environmentally-friendly lubricants can be requested via the RWS Knowledge Centre for Biolubricants.

Contact: Arjan Tromp, RWS Bouwdienst afdeling SWI, Griffioenlaan 2, Postbus 20000, 3502 LA Utrecht. Tel: 0031-(0)887973535; 0031-(0)6-50419600; arjan.tromp@rws.nl.