What is an alienated product

When is a product environmentally friendly?

When is a product environmentally friendly?

Products should be environmentally friendly, cars, packaging, washing machines - and lubricants. The aim is to use as little energy and raw materials as possible in production. But is it all about a good CO₂ balance in the manufacture of the products when it comes to finding the best solution for the environment? We spoke to Stefan Fassbender, Director Components Business Management EMEA - Fuel and Lubricant Solutions at BASF, and Wolfgang Bock, Head of Product Management Industrial Oils at FUCHS. The two see it a little more differentiated.

Even if Stefan Fassbender and Wolfgang Bock come from two different companies, the chemistry between them is right. They laugh and joke - but never lose sight of their goal. “At the moment, when assessing the sustainability of products, the focus is primarily on manufacture,” says the BASF manager. “However, this is definitely only half the story. We need a holistic analysis that takes into account the environmental performance of a product over its entire life cycle, from production to use and disposal. We have now implemented this approach in a joint study with FUCHS. With this we want to create a new standard for the lubricant industry and ensure a fundamental rethink. "

Long-term dialogue

An intensive dialogue between FUCHS and BASF on the subject of sustainability began back in 2015. “We have been purchasing additives for our lubricants from BASF for many years, and for this reason alone we work closely together. With the help of Sustainable Solution Steering® BASF's method, BASF products are systematically examined for sustainability aspects for a wide variety of markets and industries and potential risks are also shown to us as customers - with a view to assessing and accessing the EU chemicals regulation REACH, among other things. This repeatedly led to intensive discussions and close cooperation, ”said Bock. “In regular discussions, the idea slowly developed of jointly launching a holistic life cycle analysis that would withstand scientific assessments. The results should help us to substantiate our arguments for a comprehensive sustainability assessment along the entire value chain with facts - for discussions with our customers, but also with associations and organizations. "

Discussion among experts: Stefan Fassbender (left) and Wolfgang Bock take a close look at a hydraulic component.

Hydraulic oils at a glance

The "environmental friendliness" of three mineral oil-based FUCHS hydraulic oils that were used in a crawler excavator for 8,000 hours was critically examined - a standard single-grade hydraulic oil, a standard multigrade hydraulic oil and a premium multigrade hydraulic oil. "We are often asked why we carried out the project with hydraulic fluids," says Bock, explaining this choice. “First of all, these products are used in a wide variety of ways and are clearly number one when it comes to industrial oils. An important point, however, was that we are very close to practice in this area with our product range and the corresponding applications and that we already have meaningful and extensive field data from previous studies. ”FUCHS brought this data into the study. BASF contributed raw material data as well as the know-how and the methodology for carrying out the eco-efficiency analysis. An important support, because it was a great challenge to prepare the data material in such a way that it met the high standards of a scientific study - and that was exactly the basic goal.

"The bottom line is that the premium fluids are by far the more environmentally friendly option."


But the data from the field studies proved to be reliable and the result was clear. “It goes without saying that a simple hydraulic oil has the best CO₂ footprint in production, because it mainly consists of solvent refinements / crude oil fractions and its production hardly leads to emissions,” explains Fassbender. “That is of course different with high-quality products, high-performance hydraulic oils. The production of the additives required for this alone entails higher energy consumption. But what happens when it is used in the excavator? This is where the high-quality hydraulic oils score and ensure that it uses significantly less fuel. For example, due to the lower friction and increased pump efficiency. In addition, the service life of the premium fluids is much longer, which means that the maintenance intervals can be extended - this also relieves the burden on fossil resources considerably. ”Bock sums it up:“ The bottom line and with a view to the entire life cycle are the premium fluids by far the more environmentally friendly option. "

Stefan Fassbender (l.) Asked Wolfgang Bock to explain the function of this test stand, which can be used to analyze the effects of the lubricant in the hydraulic area. An important topic in this context - the influence of the lubricant on friction and efficiency.