There are many benefits to be gained from using synthetic lubricants, but it’s important to consider a number of factors before selecting a new product for any application. The equipment you are using, the conditions under which it’s operating, variances in environmental conditions all have an impact on lubricant choice, and that is especially true when looking at the advantages of synthetic lubricants. The formulation of synthetic lubricants makes them real problem solvers, and there are many situations where synthetic lubricants will show significant advantages compared to mineral products.
Synthetic lubricants are manufactured using chemical reactions which control temperature, pressure and component levels to produce uniform molecule size and targeted performance properties. The most common types of synthetic lubricants are Polyalphaolefin (PAO), ester and Polyalkylene Glycol (PAG) based. The type of synthetic lubricant you select will depend on the properties you need it to have, the conditions in which it will be operating, the environment and its compatibility with other fluids or substances it may come into contact with, for example, refrigeration agents, seals, paints, or other lubricants.
Extremes of Temperature
Synthetic lubricants demonstrate far superior performance at extreme high and low temperatures. They are wax free, and have lower pour points than mineral lubricants, allowing them to start lubricating equipment much quicker in cold-start conditions. At the other end of the temperature scale, the high viscosity index of synthetic lubricants means that they maintain a consistent viscosity even at high temperatures, providing enhanced protection for your equipment. In conditions where temperature is a significant factor, synthetic lubricants should always be considered. For example, if your gear box is running above 80 degrees Celcius, we would recommend looking at a synthetic lubricant. Some synthetic lubricants also provide benefits in conditions where moisture is a factor, with PAO’s exhibiting superior demulsibility and hydrolytic stability compared to mineral lubricants.
Due to the uniform nature of the molecules in a synthetic lubricant, the traction coefficient of the lubricant is reduced. This refers to the force required to move a load, with the easier the movement, the less energy expended through lubricant shearing (change in viscosity due to mechanical stress). Low traction synthetic lubricants can help to reduce energy consumption in equipment through reduction in friction and drag. In an engine this can lead to increased fuel economy, while in other applications such as gear boxes, it results in reduced energy usage and lower operating temperatures. Thermography can help to identify equipment running at high temperatures, and in some cases, switching to a synthetic lubricant may help to solve the problem.
Extended Oil Life
Synthetic lubricants have higher oxidation stability than mineral oils. They also have higher resistance to thermal breakdown and sludge. This means that synthetic lubricants have a longer life than their mineral counterparts, so oil drain intervals can be increased. Many manufacturers claim that their synthetic lubricants last 3-4 times longer than mineral oils, with some exceeding this. This not only results in savings through reduced lubricant consumption, but also through reduced labour, less frequent maintenance, reduced equipment downtime and reduced waste oil disposal costs.
If you are unlikely to achieve operational or financial benefits from moving to a synthetic lubricant, then it may not always be the best choice, but we can help you select the best lubricant for your equipment, and work with you to demonstrate the real benefits of synthetic lubricants.