In a previous post about marine oils, we discussed the Vessel General Permit (VGP)—what it is, its impact on large marine vessels, oil classifications, and more. We also gave some criteria for selecting an environmentally acceptable lubricant (EAL) that meets VGP requirements. In this post, we’ll recap some of the VGP basics, and delve further into the benefits of using biodegradable hydrocarbon based oils like THRIVE™ Eco.
It’s been a little over 2 years since the 2013 VGP first came into effect, and by now, maintenance managers of marine fleets should be well adjusted to the new standards and requirements. For any marine vessel greater than 79 feet in length that operates within United States waters, the VGP states that they must use EALs in all oil-to-sea interfaces, but some EALs are simply better than others. In fact, just because a lubricant is classified as environmentally acceptable, doesn’t mean that it’s suitable for use in oil-to-sea applications, as environmentally acceptable doesn’t exactly mean harmless to the environment.
Here’s a quick recap of the 3 traits EALs must possess in order to be VGP-approved:
- Biodegradable — In order for an oil to be considered “biodegradable,” it must have a minimum of 60% biodegradation of its natural state within 28 days for 90% of the lubricant formulation, or 75% of a grease formulation.
- Minimally Toxic —VGP-approved lubricants must pass acute or chronic toxicity tests, or pass an evaluation where the “lethal concentration” or “no observed effect concentration” is measured.
- Non-Bioaccumulative — Bioaccumulation refers to the process in which an organism absorbs a toxic substance at a greater rate than which the substance is lost. In order to qualify as a non-bioaccumulative, a lubricant can’t be able to build up its toxicity.
If a lubricant doesn’t meet even just one of these 3 requirements above, then it isn’t approved for use in oil-to-sea interfaces, and those who use non-VGP-approved oils will be met with stiff punishment from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Thankfully, between polyalkylene glycol (PAG), vegetable oil, synthetic esters, and biodegradable hydrocarbon-based products, maintenance managers have several safe options to choose from. When it comes to choosing the best all-around EAL for your marine vessel, however, biodegradable hydrocarbon-based fluids not only meet the VGP standards for marine vessels, but they can also simplify your maintenance activities, improve performance, and protect the environment.
3 Added Benefits of Biodegradable Hydrocarbon-Based Lubricants
- Superior Performance — while all EALs can claim that they’re safe for the environment, certain renewable hydrocarbon-based fluids can make that claim, while also boasting superior performance. Their high viscosity index and low pour point provides excellent performance in a wide temperature range, in addition to durable wear and corrosion protection, excellent thermal and hydrolytic stability, outstanding shear stability, and extended fluid life.
- Easy to Use — Because the aforementioned certain renewable hydrocarbon-based lubricants are fully compatible with mineral oils and synthetic PAOs, they’re already compatible with the fluids you’ve likely been using up to this point. In other words, you can make the switch to hydrocarbon-based fluids with minimal adjustment to your vessel.
- No Cross-Contamination Concerns — Stemming from their compatibility with other oils, select renewable hydrocarbon-based fluids are also compatible with many different kinds of seals and equipment, eliminating leaking and cross-contamination concerns when introducing it to your system.
In addition to these three benefits, our THRIVE Eco fluids also have very high dielectric strength. While not required of EALs, this can be crucial on ships that have boom lifts, cranes, or other equipment operating near power sources.
Always remember, if you don’t fully drain a system when changing a fluid, or convert subsequent parts of your system that interact with your EAL fluid, you won’t see the benefits we’ve outlined above from your EAL. You’ll need to dump and recharge your fluids when you convert your systems so that your old fluids don’t contaminate the new.
At U.S. Lubricants, we know all about the benefits of hydrocarbon-based EALs, as our THRIVE™ Eco line is one the highest quality, best performing EALs in the industry. Made with 100% renewable base oils from plant sugars, THRIVE™ Eco meets the rigid VGP requirements, while containing none of the impurities found in conventional base oils derived from crude petroleum. THRIVE™ Eco hydraulic fluids are VGP-approved, as well as meeting different Food and Pharmaceutical Grade requirements and requirements for the European Ecolabel.
To learn more about why and how your vessel should make the switch to hydrocarbon-based EALs like THRIVETM Eco, contact TSpringer@uslube.com, or by phone at (800) 490-4900 ext. 8823.