June 7, 2004

Biolubricant tests will help set standards for new green product

Two tests recently run on a biologically-based lubricant (biolubricant) for chainsaw bars will ultimately help industry establish product standards for biolubricants to encourage consumers to choose these environmentally friendly products. The Alberta Research Council (ARC) ran the tests for Greenland Corporation, of Calgary, under a contract to Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (AAFRD).

"We wanted to compare the bio-based chain bar oil with a commercial petroleum-based chain bar oil to evaluate chemical and physical properties, ecotoxicity, and functionality," says Dan Wispinski, manager of ARC's fuels and lubricants business unit. "The performance of the biolubricant in the field application was very comparable to the petroleum-based oil."

Xiaomei Li, research scientist with ARC's environmental technologies business unit, led environmental tests on the biolubricant. "Biolubricants have significant advantages related to environmental impact," says Li. "They are inherently biodegradable and are made from a renewable resource."

ARC technologists in Edmonton conducted performance tests using a chainsaw mounted to a portable sawmill, while technologists at ARC's Vegreville facility carried out environmental tests on seedlings.

Connie Phillips, manager at AAFRD's Centre for Agri-Industrial Technology, says moving away from traditional chainsaw bar oil is an important step towards better environmental stewardship. Chainsaw bar oil is a free-loss lubricant, which means it is expected to end up in the environment when used, she says. During use, a chainsaw can release up to 0.8 litres of oil per hour into the environment; consequently, an environmentally safer alternative is of value both to the forestry industry as well as occasional chainsaw users. As an added benefit, Alberta's agriculture industry could supply source material to biolubricant manufacturers.

ARC's fuels and lubricants business unit performs product evaluation and quality assessments of refined petroleum products, including a wide range of fuels as well as new lubricating oils. Greenland Corporation manufactures and markets the Greenplus line of environmentally safe, vegetable oil-based lubricants including Greenplus Chain Saw-Bar Oil ES.

More information is available from Xiaomei Li at ARC, 780/450-5290 E-mail xiaomei@arc.ab.ca, or Dan Wispinski at ARC, 780/450-5108, E-mail wispinski@arc.ab.ca.

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