Modern lubricants are highly developed design elements present in all machinery, as well as many mechanical applications essential for every day life. The efficiency and ever increasing technical requirements of machinery and components have led industrial partners FUCHS and BRAIN to synthesise new additives, thus continuously optimising the composition of the lubricants. With regards to sustainability and biodegradability, the petroleum-based raw materials traditionally used for the synthesis of additives are often inferior to biologically engineered ingredients.
As part of the strategic alliance ZeroCarbFP (FKZ: 031A217), enzymatic synthesis processes for the production of high quality lubricant additives from biogenic raw materials and waste streams are developed. In this case, waste streams can be used as both a nutrient for the enzyme production and as a raw material for the manufacturing of target products. The basic materials used are edible fats and oils, animal fats, residues from biodiesel production (for example glycerol, fatty acids and fatty acid methyl ester), lignocellulose and a variety of other industrial by-products and waste streams. In this context, the first milestones were achieved at an early stage and so lubricant formulation experiments using the new raw materials could begin ahead of schedule. The first lubricants with the newly synthesised additives from sustainable raw materials are already in the application development stage at FUCHS.
“In the field of lubricant applications, there is high demand for resources produced using non-toxic and biodegradable additives and functionalised base fluids,” says Dipl.-Phys. Rolf Luther, Head of Advanced Engineering for the FUCHS Group. “Through the implementation of the programme, Fuchs hopes, in partnership with BRAIN, to generate new access routes to different raw materials in order to achieve a stable, economically reliable supply. In addition, the strategic alliance ZeroCarbFP offers us the chance to evaluate a wide range of raw materials for additives and functionalised base fluids that are currently not technically available and have not yet been considered.”
Dr. Jürgen Eck, Chief Technology Officer at BRAIN AG adds, “The combination of highly diverse enzymes of microbial origin from our BioArchive, alongside our extensive technology portfolio of production strains and process development has allowed us to synthesise two lubricant components from sustainable sources of raw materials more quickly than anticipated. We are very pleased that the first lubricants have already been produced at Fuchs and are now in the application development stage.”