SC Fuels Guide to Lubricants
Lubricants are a vital part of most if not all industrial machinery and learning which is right for your application becomes more and more important as different types and grades are created. To begin our journey into different lubricants, their applications, and when to use them, we should establish the purpose of lubricants in machinery.
What Is an Industrial Lubricant?
Industrial lubricants reduce friction between moving components. These are groups of oils, greases, and fluids that work to prolong the life of systems by reducing unnecessary wear. Some industrial lubricants are thicker than others, and you can expect these solutions to coat metal surfaces for improving performance, dissipating heat, and cleaning internal systems.
Industrial lubricants are application-specific. You can use your owner’s manual provided by a vehicle or equipment manufacturer to choose the correct industrial lubricant for your vehicle.
Generally, industrial lubricants are described by their viscosity and form:
- Low viscosity oils: These types of lubricants are thin and flow similar to water. There is a low resistance to movement, making them flow freely throughout systems.
- High viscosity oils: Some systems require thicker lubricants to dissipate heat. High viscosity oils can withstand greater loads work well at slower operating speeds.
- Grease lubricants: These varieties form due to the presence of a thickening agent within a base fluid.
What Are Industrial Lubricants Made Of?
Most industrial lubricants are created using natural oils or synthetic oils. Natural — or mineral oil lubricants — derive from petroleum. Petroleum is a liquid mixture comprised of hydrocarbons. Natural oil lubricants can be produced with different molecular weights, but these lubricant types are known for being reasonably viscous.
Synthetic oils are artificially made. These are free of mineral oil bases and petroleum. Instead, companies use synthetic compounds like silicone, polyethylene glycol, and esters to create synthetic oils. The main advantage of using synthetic oils for lubricants is that these solutions enhance fire resistance and cooling capabilities.
What’s The Purpose of Industrial Lubricants?
Lubricants are solutions created from compounds (usually petroleum-based) that are used for minimizing friction between moving engine or component parts drastically extending the longevity of the equipment we use. There are many types of industrial lubricants ranging from liquid-based oil lubricants to a semi-solid yet soft grease, so knowing how and when to use these tools is paramount to the success of your equipment.
Types of Industrial Lubricants
You can see industrial lubricants used in all sorts of industries. From automotive maintenance and manufacturing to food processing and medical fields, lubricants and additives are needed to keep equipment up and running. The advantages of using lubricants may include minimizing heat transfer, preventing the onset of corrosion, and stopping engine components from warping.
You can categorize industrial lubricants by their specific applications. Using the correct lubricant on a vehicle or machine is an excellent way to ensure technology behaves as intended by the manufacturer. In general, industrial lubricants are used on the following components across a car or truck:
- Chains and cables: Some lubricants are needed to reduce strain on metal connections exposed to changing temperatures. Lubricant solutions can help vehicles perform cold starts during the winter months.
- Motors: Automotive vehicles require motor or engine lubricants to boost fuel efficiency and filter sludge.
- Gears: You can reduce the chances of abrasion from happening inside a vehicle’s transmission system.
- Compressors: Coating internal parts of a compressor eliminates stress on nearby pistons.
Learn more about the differences between common industrial lubricants below.
To begin with, we will dive into synthetic oils that are used to lubricate the engines inside of vehicles, the gears inside of most motors, and machinery. Motor oils are made from a heavy thick petroleum hydrocarbon base derived from crude oils and additives that are used to maintain a proper level of viscosity. Viscosity can be defined as how “thick” a liquid is.
These oils coat moving gears and parts with a film of oil that protects the parts from friction that over time would destroy the quality of these parts. Oil-based lubricants are the most widely used and common in the industrial lubricant types as they are used in almost every single road vehicle.
Next on our list of lubricants are greases. Greases are a semisolid lubricant that is usually a soap base, emulsified with mineral or vegetable oil. These highly viscous lubricants start in a paste-like state but once applied and rubbed onto a surface, coat the surface with a similar film of lubricant that oil-based lubricants provide.
Greases are usually applied to mechanisms that can only be lubricated infrequently and where a lubricating oil would not stay in position. In addition, greases also act as a sealant to prevent the ingress of water and incompressible materials. Bearings, both ball and mechanical require greases to maintain efficiency.
Hydraulic fluids are an interesting chemical as they serve many purposes. First, they are the medium by which power is transferred in hydraulic machinery. One of the most important aspects of hydraulic fluids is their level of compressibility. Compressibility is a measure in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics of the relative change in volume a fluid experiences in response to pressure. As pressure and temperature rise within a hydraulic fluid, the volume remains very constant as opposed to most other fluids that will experience an increase in volume with rising temperature and pressure.
While not by definition lubricants, hydraulic fluids do provide a buffer that extends the lifetime of the hydraulic pump system they are used in. For example, your car’s brake system is a hydraulic pump system and your brake fluid is a petroleum-based hydraulic fluid. When you press on the brake pedal, a pump is pressed forcing fluid along a pipe called the hydraulic line where pressure builds until enough energy is transferred to close the brake caliper pistons on the rotor. Without hydraulic fluid to buffer the parts and transfer energy these parts would be in direct contact and could cause damages.
Heavy-Duty Engine Oil
Finally, there is heavy-duty engine oil. We have already spoken about motor oil here and in past articles, however, heavy-duty engine oils are different enough from them to warrant their own spot on this list. Heavy-duty engine oils are engine oils with much higher viscosity levels. Where conventional oils create a thin film of lubrication over gears and other mechanical parts, higher viscosity oils coat with a much thicker film providing a much more resistant finish that will protect against the wear and tear of a large construction vehicle. These highly viscous lubricants cannot be used in automobiles or other machines that use standard motor oil as these oils cause too much resistance and could damage the machine.
Choose SC Fuels for Automotive Lubricants
There you have it, you are now equipped with the knowledge to be able to make educated decisions when choosing what type of lubricants, you or your company may need. SC Fuels offers all of these lubricants in many different grades to suit your needs. Contact us or call us at 1-888-SCFUELS to speak to a lubricant expert about the different suites of lubricants available to you!