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Does the Environmentally Acceptable Lubricant sector’s array of labelling programmes mean anything?

28 Oct 2021

The following educational content on Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EALs) is the first of a two-part series initiated by Gealubes Consulting & Trading Pte Ltd, the authorised marine business distributor of the PANOLIN brand of EALs in Singapore.

In this edition, Singapore-based Gealubes Sales Director Garren Hay shares with Manifold Times the relevance of EAL-associated labelling programmes and the factors making EALs environmentally friendly products.

MT: What are EALs and the types of labelling programmes? How important are these labelling endorsements and should they mean anything to the end-user/shipowner?

GEALUBES: EALs are lubricants that are “biodegradable” and “minimally-toxic,” and are “not bioaccumulative” as defined in Appendix A of the 2013 VGP (Vessel General Permit), according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Low toxicity is an essential feature of any EAL. A bio-based EAL is made of minimally-toxic components. An interesting fact is that before EALs are certified for use, they have to be tested to ascertain that they would not harm certain aquatic life forms.

A common test to determine the biodegradability factor of an EAL is the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Test Guidelines (OECD) 301B which determines if 60% of the organic carbon within the lubricant can be converted to carbon dioxide (CO2) over a minimum period of 28 days when exposed to a natural sea water environment.

Several brands of EALs are available on the market, and products meeting the 2013 VGP definitions of an EAL includes those labelled by the following voluntary labelling programs:

  • Blue Angel,
  • European Ecolabel,
  • Nordic Swan,
  • Swedish Standards SS 155434 and 155470,
  • Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) requirements, and
  • EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE)

While EPA does not specifically require an EAL to receive a label from one of the programs listed, EPA clearly states it believes the labelling programs identify existing EALs that generally meet the 2013 VGP requirements.

Hence, choosing a brand with the mentioned labels is important as it defines the long term quality commitment of the company for producing sustainable lubricating oils.

Besides labels, it is advisable to also look out for companies that are constantly working closely with manufacturers for approval of their products.

We are proud to share PANOLIN’s environmentally friendly products are internationally recognised by numerous national and international eco-labels such as EPA, ABS Type Approval, Cefas, HOCNF Labels, Korea Eco Label, The Blue Angel/Der Blaue Engel, Swedish Standard, USDA BIO PREFERRED, Rina Green plus, Prijatelj Okolisa, Ekologicky Setrný Výrobek, and the EU Ecolabel scheme.

Further to the international labels, PANOLIN has also worked extensively with OEM original engine manufacturers and obtained approvals from WARTSILA, MAN, KEMEL, SKF, HYUNDAI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, and more.

MT: What are the types of EALs available in the maritime market, and what are the differences between them?

GEALUBES: There are various types of EALs specifically designed and developed for the maritime sector. Some of these are made from basestocks such as vegetable oils (not reliable in terms of Oxidation Stability), Polyglycols (PAGs) (very vulnerable in humid environments) and Synthetic Esters (Saturated and Unsaturated) etc.

Saturated Synthetic Esters are the most advanced and a superior technology for marine applications that may result in oil/sea interface, while at the same time protecting the environment and the equipment.

Synthetic environmentally friendly lubricants such as those manufactured by PANOLIN comes with extended drain intervals (5 times longer than mineral lubricants). This means there is 4 times less waste and 5 times more usage of the same amount of oil.

Due to their synthetic nature, the chemical structure of PANOLIN EALs are engineered to ensure outstanding resistance to oxidation and excellent hydrolytic and thermal stability, thus ensuring extended drain intervals.

Notably, specific maritime applications of EALs, such as use of the material as a stern tube oil, call for non-emulsifying aspects to take high priority. Many bearing manufacturers suggest non-emulsifying lubrication in stern tube applications in order to avoid the presence of trapped water within the chemical structure of the lubricant.

These unique characteristics can only be achieved through fully synthetic EALs such as the PANOLIN STELLA MARIS series.

Their chemical nature gives them the advantage to connect with water under agitation WHILE remaining separated from the oil in stationary conditions to allow adequate draining of seawater – hereby ensuring the oil is suitable for prolonged use.

About Gealubes Consulting & Trading

GEALUBES is the authorised marine business distributor for PANOLIN in Singapore. PANOLIN’s international headquarter is based in Madetswil, Switzerland.

PANOLIN’s EALs are available globally and its range of EAL products cover applications used within the marine, offshore and food industry.


Contact details of Garren Hay are as follows:

Tel: (+65) 6322 0830
HP: (+65) 9664 2884
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.gealubes.com.sg

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