Fuchs and BASF collaborate on holistic sustainability assessment of hydraulic fluids

Fuchs and BASF collaborate on holistic sustainability assessment of hydraulic fluids

Fuchs and BASF’s global business unit Fuel and Lubricant Solutions, have partnered to develop a holistic real fact-based sustainability assessment of  hydraulic fluids. This study is a first example that demonstrates on the one hand the superior relevance of a cradle-to-grave versus a cradle-to-gate assessment and on the other hand the positive impact of a specially designed multigrade high viscosity index (VI) hydraulic fluid on such a cradle-to-grave analysis. 

The fluids investigated were all mineral oil based hydraulic fluids of different quality levels. Further beneficial impacts on EEAs can be expected upon usage of ester based, so called biodegradable ester based (HEES) hydraulic fluids. Such fluids are known to inherently possess high shear stable VIs and in addition lead to lower friction compared to standard mineral oil-based fluids. Another environmental benefit is their biodegradability. Investigations with such ester-based fluids could be a next step. 

Contrary to the currently dominant cradle-to-gate approach, which only assesses a partial product life cycle until a product has been manufactured, the evaluation of different hydraulic fluids was conducted employing a cradle-to-grave approach when assessing the environmental and economic aspects of the involved products in their full life cycle from sourcing of the raw materials, production, their use phase and their disposal. 

Holistically considering the products’ full life cycle around the usage in a crawler excavator, the findings of the Eco-Efficiency Analysis (EEA) study showed the lower environmental impact and lower overall cost especially in use of premium high performance multigrade hydraulic oil (HVLP fluid) versus standard monograde hydraulic oil (HLP fluid). 

The advantage is mainly based on an improved diesel fuel economy throughout the use phase due to improved volumetric fluid efficiency, lower friction and lower fluid mass circulation ratio – which overcompensates a slightly higher environmental footprint of these products in the cradle-to-gate phase. The improved fuel economy was enabled mainly through the higher hydraulic fluid efficiency of the specific fully formulated multigrade hydraulic oils. 

“With this study we are jointly pioneering the assessment of sustainability aspects within the lubricant industry,” said Lutz Lindemann, chief technology officer, Fuchs Petrolub SE. “We really value the broad competencies around sustainability and analytical methods which BASF has brought to the table to make it happen in combination with practical, realistic and application relevant Fuchs know-how. Fuchs and BASF are currently looking at further cases to jointly evaluate, but also at application cases for BASF’s sustainable product portfolio of lubricant components.” 

“Sustainability is at the core of our business,” said Julia Frey, vice president, Business Management EMEA, Fuel and Lubricant Solutions, BASF SE. “As a leading solution provider to the industries we serve, it is our aspiration to continually, together with our partners, advance the implementation of a fact-based approach to the topic within the fuel and lubricant sector.” 

Explore more on these topics