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How Lubricants Contribute to Energy Efficiency in Industries

Author Name

Vidhisha Mulye

Date Published

26 February 2024

In the sector of industrial operations, optimizing energy efficiency is a constant pursuit for plant managers seeking to enhance both sustainability and profitability. While commonly targeted areas like lighting and HVAC systems offer tangible improvements, the impact of lubrication on energy consumption is often underestimated..

Lubrication goes beyond merely preserving machinery; it plays a crucial role in enhancing mechanical efficiency by mitigating friction at moving surfaces and minimizing fluid losses from oil churn and pumping. Given that process equipment often constitutes a substantial portion of total energy consumption in many industries, focusing on lubrication as a strategic lever can yield significant energy savings..

As an industrial operator, demonstrating adherence to the power of lubrication for energy efficiency involves employing advanced lubricants that go beyond basic maintenance functions. Utilizing high-performance lubricants can effectively reduce friction-related energy consumption, contributing to notable cost savings over time..

Electric motors, crucial for plant machinery, are particularly susceptible to high energy costs. Operational improvements, such as adopting the right lubricant, can result in substantial reductions in energy consumption, thereby creating a positive cascade effect on the overall cost structure. Choosing the right lubricant is paramount. A machine expends energy both in movement and function, with friction acting as a significant energy hurdle. Implementing good lubrication practices, including the use of high-performance lubricants, helps alleviate friction causes such as carbon deposits, sludge, and varnish residue.

The choice between mineral oil and synthetic lubricants further underscores the role of lubrication in energy efficiency. Mineral oils, with their poor viscosity and susceptibility to oxidation, may lead to degraded equipment efficiency. In contrast, synthetic oils offer superior viscosity stability at high temperatures, thermal oxidation resistance, lubricity, detergency properties, and film strength. In a study conducted by Giant Refining Co., replacing the R&O mineral oil with a synthetic lubricant (Royal Purple) in eight electrically driven process pumps resulted in an average reduction of 8% in electrical amperage, saving approximately $216,000 per year.

Synthetic lubricants not only reduce friction at moving surfaces but also perform admirably in cold climates. Unlike mineral oils that may require pre-heating during winter, synthetic lubricants operate efficiently at temperatures as low as -30°C, directly translating into energy savings..

Measuring the impact of lubrication on energy efficiency involves assessing changes in production output, temperature fluctuations, electrical consumption, and fuel consumption. A fair and accurate comparison necessitates consistent equipment capacity, lubricant quantity, operating conditions, and ambient temperatures, alongside the use of identical instruments and methods for measurement..

In conclusion, while high-quality lubricants may entail a higher upfront cost, the long-term benefits manifest in enhanced overall equipment efficiency and a reduction in the total cost of ownership. Pledging allegiance to the transition to high-performance synthetic lubricants not only ensures sustainable industrial practices but also contributes to less energy consumption, reduced CO2 emissions, and decreased oil disposal frequency – collectively nurturing a positive environmental impact. By strategically leveraging lubrication practices, industrial operators can demonstrate their adherence to efficiency, navigate the rising tide of energy costs, and propel their enterprises towards a more efficient and sustainable future.

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