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Measuring the environmental 
friendliness of lubricants


Open and closed systems

Hydraulic oils and greases are biolubricants used in open and closed systems. A distinction can be made between loss lubricants and 'lost lubricants'.

Loss lubricants are greases with a lubricating and sealing function and are applied to prevent wear from friction or to prevent contamination by particles such as sand during excavation works (and are, therefore, constantly applied under pressure). The nature of their application makes emission into the environment inevitable. This particularly applies to the use of greases and oils to lubricate (semi-) open systems such as stern tubes and gearboxes, but also to concrete release agents.

The lost lubricants are mainly (hydraulic) oils in equipment and installations such as winches and hoisting mechanism, on machines, vehicles and vessels, that are not only used for lubrication but also for the transfer of force. These lubricants are usually applied in closed systems but can end up in the environment due to leakage of the system caused by wear on an installation or during an accident such as a pipe fracture.

The application of biolubricants is particularly recommended in loss lubrication and in hydraulic systems in or near ecologically sensitive areas such as nature reserves, agricultural areas and coastal and inland waterways. The use in other applications, however, offers important benefits to the environment as well.