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RSC Bio Produces Plant-based Lubricant for Extreme Industrial Applications

RSC Bio Solutions has introduced the FUTERRATM product line of sugar-based bio-refined lubricants that have all the characteristics necessary for use in extreme industrial conditions, while meeting U.S. and global regulations for certification as environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs). They have the same protection ability as petroleum-based lubricating oils.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based RSC Bio Solutions launched the product in September 2016, and exhibited it at the International Work Boat Show in December.

In March, Senior Project Manager Mark Fretz and Strategic Account Executive Damian Seipel met with International Dredging Review at CONEXPO-CONAGG to discuss the dredging applications of the new product.

Fretz explained that triglycerides, or vegetable-based oils, are not good choices for the marine environment. They do not stand up to the harsh conditions, and tend to hydrolyze and oxidize, becoming viscous and non-liquid in the equipment. Because of the ester based nature of the product, if water intrudes into the oil, it does not separate, reducing the effectiveness of the lubricant or hydraulic oil.

Because of this, RSC Bio offered only readily biodegradable petroleum-based EALs until it introduced Futerra last year.

Futerra works in both wet and dry environments, holds up to contact with water in highpressure and extreme temperatures, and is durable.

Fretz described the use of the lubricant in a stern tube, a housing that contains the drive shaft of a vessel. Ideally, no water will enter the tube, but with Futerra, if there is a water intrusion, it remains separate from the oil and can be safely drained off. Other applications are in dredge gears, pumps and cutters, where there is a high possibility of water ingress.

Seipel added that product is ideal for the worldwide shipping industry because of its global nature, where the ships must pass through areas subject to different countries’ environmental regulations.

The new oil meets or exceeds the U.S. EPA designation for EALs, which includes three criteria: it must biodegrade more than 60 percent into CO2, water, and mineral salts within 28 days; it must be minimally toxic to aquatic organisms; and it must have a very low potential of bioaccumulation of chemicals in the tissues of organisms.

The product has also met the European Union Ecolabel standards, and is listed as an Ecolabel product. EU Ecolabel Industrial and Marine Gear Oil Products must meet criteria that guarantee reduced impact on the aquatic environment and the soil during use, reduced CO2 emissions, high percentage of renewable raw materials, and limited use of hazardous substances. Manufacturing process and ingredients are as important as the final product in this program.

Futerra is a drop-in replacement for mineral oil or petroleum-based lubricants. It is miscible with legacy fluids and so does not disrupt operation schedules. It can last three to four times longer than other EALs, significantly increasing the time between change-outs. The company offers a 10-year performance guarantee, with some restrictions, for stern tube applications.

Dr. Bernard Roell, vice president of R&D at RSC Bio explained that the base oil for Futerra, purchased from another company, is produced using the molecule farnesene, known as “the renewable hydrocarbon building block,” which comes from a fermentation process that converts sugar cane into a hydrocarbon.

“RSC Bio formulates its product using other components that provide excellent anti-wear and extreme pressure performance, excellent oxidation stability, and rust and corrosion protections. It is renewable, biodegradable, minimally toxic and non-bio-accumulative,” he said.

At the time of the product launch in September 2016, Mike Guggenheimer, president and CEO of RSC Bio Solutions, said that Futerra is ideal for risk mitigation in sensitive areas. The user does not sacrifice performance, quality or cost-effectiveness, he said.

“We believe that forward-looking and operationally efficient ship management teams will be keenly interested in this new technology as they anticipate future trends,” Guggenheimer said.

RSC Bio was established in 2010 as a sister corporation to Radiator Specialty Company, and is focused on providing high performance chemistries that are safe, non-hazardous and environmentally responsible. The company is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Specifications of Futerra can be found at: https://rscbio.com/products/rsc-futerra-hf-series.

See related articles “Houston Explains Effects of EPA Regulation Mandating Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants in Dredges,” IDR, January/February 2016, and “EPA Releases New Vessel General Permit Guidelines,” IDR, January/February 2014.

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