Synthetic lubricants have been in use in industrial applications for over two decades. Although they are more costly than their counterpart petroleum-based mineral oils, the return on investment is huge due to their novel properties and better performance under a wide range of operating conditions.
Synthetic lubricants significantly increase the operating systems production and efficiency, making them great assets for countless industries. However, the two most significant benefits of synthetic oils are; their ability to outperform mineral oils at high operating temperatures (above 85 degrees Celsius) and their high efficiency at low operating temperatures (below -18 degrees Celsius).
The type of equipment, operating conditions, and the temperature at which a machine is running all impact the choice and type of synthetic lubricant required. This is particularly true when we are looking at their advantages.
Below we mention the advantages of synthetic lubricants related to their unique features and characteristics.
High Viscosity Index
Synthetic lubricants are produced by the chemical modification of oil components and not by refining crude oil. The chemical reactions used in this process are highly controlled and run under a highly regulated temperature, pressure, and component level. These controlled conditions are necessary to create uniform particle size and targeted performance properties, giving synthetic lubricants unique features and making them a real troubleshooter. One of these features includes a high viscosity index.
A viscosity index is the measure of a fluid’s change in viscosity or the rate of flow relative to the change in its temperature. It is the most crucial property a lubricant has. A higher viscosity index means that oil remains stable despite fluctuations in temperature, which happens quite often during a machine's daily operation. It implies the lubricant will resist becoming thinner at high temperatures, thus improving the machines lubrication program and offering better protection to the bearings and other intricate machine parts.
Better Oxidation Resistance
The better resistance to oxidation is perhaps the most significant benefit synthetic lubricants can offer. Having better or higher oxidation stability than mineral oils means that they can provide a longer service life leading to less lubrication starvation and longer drain intervals with less frequent oil changes.
Resistance to oxidation makes synthetic lubricants resistant to thermal breakdown and dirt, consequently increasing its life. Due to this property, synthetic oils are best utilized in machines that require longer drain intervals, little maintenance, and reduced downtime. Many manufacturers claim that synthetic lubricants last 3-4 times longer than their mineral oil equivalents. Longer life also means improved operating efficiency and potential cost savings for your plant.
Traction coefficient or internal fluid friction (resistance) is another feature of synthetic lubricant that enhances machines' efficiency. The traction coefficient is the shearing force needed to move a load, divided by the load. The coefficient number represents the ease with which the lubricant film is sheared or affected.
For example, synthetic lubricants have up to a 30 percent advantage over mineral oils for the traction coefficient. This indicates the force needed to move a load is less and will therefore use less energy. Using a low-traction synthetic lubricant will significantly reduce power consumption, which will lead to lower energy bills for the plant.
High Film Strength
Most synthetic lubricants have high film strength, which allows them to be utilized in extremely low temperatures. They are wax-free and have colder pour points than mineral oils, enabling them to lubricate machine components and start the engine much quicker in colder conditions. For example, at the beginning of the process, or in areas that witness temperatures around zero.
Recently, synthetic lubricants have been gaining popularity in industrial applications. Their popularity can be attributed to their longer service life and higher efficiency as compared to mineral-based oils. Synthetic oils can operate under a wide range of temperatures, offer better protection to machine parts, and prevent lubrication starvation. However, their advantages depend on the operating conditions and the type of synthetics. To switch over to synthetic lubricants in an industrial application with caution and care, consult with our machine lubrication experts.