University of Delaware Researchers Produce Renewable Oils for Use in Lubricants


Wind turbines, engine gears, refrigerator compressors & plane thrusters, list of essential agricultural equipment, home applications, industrial machinery & transportation vessels that rely on lubricants maybe limitless. The aforementioned elements touch almost every aspect of current life & covering a global industry which is over sixty billion dollars annually.

Although they are an important element, lubricants tend to leave behind massive footprint on the environment. Greases, usual lubricants, emollients & oils normally have petroleum, minerals, base oils – sometimes up to ninety percent by weight. The said mineral base oils are explosive in nature & have the tendency to become thicker in a short span of time that ultimately means that lubricants are required to be substituted frequently, producing waste.

The vital ingredient to effective lubricants are synthetic base oils because of their excellent lubrication characteristics, durability & suitability for intense temperatures in comparison to their usual mineral-base oils equivalents – but developing them with customizable specifications & structures may turn out to be costly & difficult. The absence of tunability develops a requirement for combining the base-oil with plenty of costly additives, adding to the lubricants’ footprint on the environment.

In order to find a solution to the said issues, University of Delaware-led Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI)’s researchers & investigators from partner institutions have collaborated together. Their research claim a plan to develop sustainable lubricant base oils effectively from non-food biomass – elements such as switchgrass, wood & other sustainable, organic waste – & fatty acids, that exist in used up fat of animal & vegetable oils.

The research done by the group has been released in the new copy of Science Advances. An international patent application has been filed to acquire intellectual property rights for their advanced ways.

Director & founder of Allan & Myra Ferguson Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering & CCEI Dion Vlachos stated that this is the first time that renewable lubricants is made from sufficient raw materials, in a specific chemical method so that the architecture of the huge molecules is dialed in, something which cannot be accomplished with the help of crude oil. Product is an excellent material with amazing properties different from anything available in the industry. CCEI’s associate director Basu Saha stated that in order to develop new materials & boost chemical reactions catalysts are utilized. UD’s postdoctoral researcher Sibao Liu said that produced base oils are useful for a variety of current applications sans the requirement of large quantity of additives in the formulation of lubricants.

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Rohit Bhisey

Rohit Bhisey

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