Dow Chemical Co.

May 31, 2005
New line of food-grade lubricants in the works

The UCON Fluids and Lubricants business unit of The Dow Chemical Company recently previewed a new line of food grade lubricants that are water-soluble, biodegradable and meet ISO grade 32, 46, 68 and 100 low viscosity requirements. These new polyalkylene glycol (PAG)-based lubricants address a key need of the industry: an energy-efficient, low-viscosity, eco-friendly lubricant.  Dow's new PAG-based food grade lubricants are targeted for compressors, hydraulics and other applications where lower viscosity can help reduce energy requirements and increase processing efficiency. The lubricants are currently under development and field tests should be completed by year-end.

Synthetic PAGs outperform petroleum oils in numerous applications as they can be controlled and varied to a degree not possible with natural oils and lubricants. They are ideal for food-grade applications as they provide excellent lubricity as well as increased oxidation and thermal stability. Because they are formulated from quality synthetic base fluids, they offer the same energy savings and operating temperature reductions as industrial grade polyglycol-based lubricants.

Food-grade lubricants are used in manufacturing or process control environments where there is any risk that a consumable product could come in contact with the lubricant. For many years, PAGs and other polymers have been used successfully for these applications, but have been approved for food-grade applications only in ISO viscosity grades of 150 or higher. The new PAG-based, low viscosity food-grade lubricants from Dow substantially increase efficiency by allowing the machinery to run cooler, which requires less energy and helps to extend the life of capital equipment.

"Manufacturers of consumable and edible products are looking for safer food grade lubricants that have a more favorable health and environmental profile," stated Martin Greaves, project leader from UCON Fluids and Lubricants.

The new food grade lubricants are water-soluble and oxidatively stable, which helps to reduce and eliminate the buildup of sludge and varnish in heavy machinery. By reducing buildup, the machinery can run longer between routine maintenance and cleaning, which significantly reduces overall operating expenses. In the event of a lubricant leak or spill, the water soluble nature of PAG makes cleanup very easy, without the need to introduce organic solvents to the system.