Contents and properties of H1
Dr Frank Schulz has been Head of the Development unit since 2004. The ELKALUB Journal spoke to the Doctor of Chemistry about the formulation of H1 lubricants and the properties associated with these lubricants.
Dr Schulz, can you make me an H1 lubricant using a lubricant that I have used for many years?
Dr Frank Schulz: Let us begin the concept at a somewhat earlier stage: What constitutes a lubricant? For one thing – as implied by your question – a lubricant is defined by its composition, that is, its contents. For another thing – and this is not taken into account at all by your question – a lubricant is defined by its properties. This second element is what ELKALUB customers focus on most. To come back to your question: I can adopt the usage requirements of the lubricant that has been used thus far and develop for you an H1 lubricant that fulfils these requirements. However, the composition of the lubricant will change in the process.
To formulate an H1-certified lubricant, you may use only certain contents. What those are is indicated in the “White Book®” of the certification body NSF. Further, the contents must comply with regulations listed in certain paragraphs of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). At all events, you, the developer, have a significantly smaller selection of contents to choose from than when formulating a conventional lubricant. Two key points are these: NSF prescribes that an H1 lubricant may contain only certain base oils. These include medicinal white oils and synthetic oils such as poly-alpha-olefins (PAO), silicone oils and polyalkylene glycols. This is not a problem in chemical terms but the result is that it makes the lubricant slightly more expensive. However, NSF provides for quantity restrictions for the thickeners and additives. In most cases, the permitted proportion of additives is restricted to 0.5%. And it is the additives that ensure the – I will call it the fine tuning of the lubricant. By this means we control properties such as oxidation resistance, i.e. how quickly the lubricant ages, the corrosion protection properties, the lubricant’s contribution to wear protection or its ability to deactivate non-ferrous metals.
Can an H1 lubricant accomplish the same as a conventional lubricant?
I’ll answer with another question: Of what good to you is a Formula 1 racing car if you want to go shopping? What I mean is, an H1 lubricant is developed according to a specification book for specific cases of application. Before ELKALUB offers this lubricant, it must complete various tests successfully (comment from the editorial dept.: FE8, FE9, FZG, etc.).
Can you name concrete product examples?
Let us take, for example, our H1 oils of the LFC 34000 series, which we developed in 2009 (comment from the editorial dept.: Oils of this series are used for Bromberger packaging, for example). They fulfil the antifriction bearing manufacturer’s FE8 test at 80°C as well as the special test at 40°C. The special test is required by the antifriction bearing manufacturers because this temperature corresponds to the one that exists in practice. To answer your question about what the lubricant can accomplish in a different way again: you can formulate a lubricant in such a way that it is H1-certifiable and fulfils the technical requirements.
Are H1 lubricants more complex to develop?
Yes, undoubtedly. We have a smaller selection of permitted contents to choose from and at the same time we are restricted in terms of quantity. This leads, for example, to problems in the use of thickeners, since you may use only specific quantities and these sometimes do not suffice in order to manufacture a product in the desired consistency. Here, a feel for the application and above all experience are required.
Is that reflected in the price?
As a provider of high-performance lubricants, ELKALUB places high requirements on the efficiency of its products. This applies both to conventional lubricants and to H1 lubricants . The base materials used are definitely more expensive to purchase. As a benchmark you can proceed from a factor two to four, with special oils considerably higher. Not to be forgotten, too, are the expense and costs for the certifications and the annual fees that ELKALUB pays to NSF.
Why are mineral oils not used?
The base oils of H1 lubricants may not contain any aromatic hydrocarbons. This is partly for the purpose of colour and smell neutrality but is also due to the potential danger of aromatic compounds. This absolutely makes sense. After all, we are talking about lubricants that can come into contact with food and cosmetics in minimal quantities.
Let us take a look into the future: will it be the case in the foreseeable future that ELKALUB offers only H1 lubricants?
Let us consider why H1 lubricants are so popular anyway. The answer is: safety. Against the backdrop of minor and major food scandals in the last few years, all manufacturers are trying to reduce their risk. They want to rule out any possible source of contamination of their product. Here, the use of H1 lubricants is indispensable. Consequently, ELKALUB will offer H1 lubricants for all possible areas. Even if there is no chance of a lubricant coming into contact with the product at a company, we offer the manufacturer the chance to use an H1 product. Why? If a lubricant is confused with another, the mechanic nevertheless uses an H1 lubricant and there is thus no danger to the consumer. So nothing can happen.