Development of a biocide-free glycerol / chitosan-based hydraulic fluid

Project description

Hydraulic fluids are used for power transmission in hydraulic entities. The total annual consumption of this group of lubricants is around 150.000 tons in Germany. A majority of the hydraulic fluids used today contain mineral oil fractions or components. However, the use of the finite resource mineral oil is associated with dramatically rising commodity prices. Furthermore, the use of mineral oil should be avoided due to the impact on health and the environment since a considerable part of the fluid contaminates the environment through leaks, spills, etc.

With the development of a hydraulic fluid on the basis of glycerol, chitosan and water, a fluid with good technical performance should be created which furthermore avoids the aforementioned disadvantages of mineral oil based products. This development allows to replace mineral oil by the natural and renewable resource glycerol. Glycerol is a by-product of biodiesel production, which is produced in large quantities (500.000 t/a). It is anticipated that certain aspects such as usage, recycling and disposal can be handled much more environmentally friendly compared to mineral oil. In addition, the integration of the developed fluid into a cascading use is possible.

Glycerol is harmless to humans and animals; however it redundantises the use of biocides. Against the background of the environmental protection legislation (EU Pesticide Regulation; REACH) this is a competitive advantage compared to conventional mineral oil based hydraulic fluids.

The development of a new hydraulic fluid requires not only a technical assessment, but also an economic and environmental life cycle analysis. The technical assessment covers the evaluation of the fluid in a tribological wear test, a model test hydraulic and in a machine tool hydraulic. Furthermore, the economic and environmental potential of the glycerol fluid will be analyzed by comparing the developed fluid to a mineral oil based hydraulic fluid in a life cycle costing (LCA) and life cycle assessment (LCA).

Project partners

  • Institut für Ökologische und Nachhaltige Chemie der TU Braunschweig

Keywords: Lubricant; Hydraulic fluid; Glycerol; Chitosan


01.11.2011 – 31.10.2013


Dr. Ralf Bock, Sebastian Thiede


Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt

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