Autor: Roland Gruber , 02.04.2013

Hydropower plants are generally regarded as a very clean source of energy. In order to meet these expectations it is important that operators use environmentally considerate lubricants (ECLs).

PANOLIN, a Swiss family-run company located in Madetswil/Zurich, developed its first environmentally friendly, bio-degradable hydraulic oils more than 30 years ago and is one of the international market leaders in this field today.  

In the past lubricants for hydropower plant components were based on mineral oil. In case of a leakage of the plant, however, such products bear the risk of polluting the environment. This risk can be minimized through the usage of environmentally friendly lubricants. ECOFLUID Innsbruck has been successfully working with high-performance ECLs by Swiss lubricant producer PANOLIN in Austrian and South Tyrolean hydropower plants. PANOLIN lubricants are well established not only in the sector of hydropower plants but also in the sector of hydraulic steel engineering. For many years leading suppliers of power units, plant elements and machine units have been making positive experiences with PANOLIN and therefore it is not surprising that the company has become a major brand in these fields through recommendations. The long-established hydraulic oil PANOLIN HLP SYNTH is used across the country for weir plants, control units, trash rack cleaners and station cranes, while PANOLIN TURWADA SYNTH is used as slide bearing, turbine governor and turbine oil in Francis, Pelton and Kaplan turbines.

The first eco-labels for bio-degradable lubricants, or bio oils, such as the Blue Angel or Swedish Standard SS 15 54 34, were established in the early 1990s. The aim of eco-labels is to find ways to diminish the negative effects that leakages can have on the environment. Compared to specifications such as DIN 51524, eco-labels have additional requirements for lubricants regarding their toxic effects on people and mammals and regarding their ecotoxicity, i.e. their harmful effects on plants
and aquatic organisms, especially on fish, daphnia and algae. Eco-labeled lubricants are not only bio-degradable but also have a very low level of toxicity. Therefore, the name bio-oil does not adequately describe all their qualities, which is why PANOLIN named their product “environmentally considerate lubricants”, “ECLs”.

In the subsequent years more and more European countries and institutes introduced eco-labels for lubricants. At one point this variety of labels made it almost impossible to put new and approved environnmentally friendly products on the European market. In 2003/2004 the EU dealt with this problem and founded the European Eco-Label (EEL) for lubricants. All requirements are detailed in Directive 2005/360/EG “Establishing ecological criteria and the related assessment and verification requirements for the award of the Community eco-label to lubricants“. Lubricants must meet these standards to be EEL-approved. A new era began with this EU directive. Various countries today give approval to plants and machine units in ecologically delicate zones, especially in or next to water, only when EEL-approved lubricants are applied. In France, for instance, act “Loi n° 2006-11 d'orientation agri- April 2013 85 cole” (Article 44), which was transferred into act “Loi n° 2010-788 portant engagement national pour l'environnement” (Article 112), prescribes the use of EEL approved lubricants in environmentally delicate zones. Similar developments can be seen in other countries. With Holland's VAMIL program (tax relief for investments in environmentally friendly machine units) operators receive benefits only when EEL approved lubricants are used.
The European eco-label flower has become a symbol of environmentally friendly products, a simple and reliable orientation for consumers. All products that bear the eco-label have been approved by independent bodies for complying with the strict environmental requirements and meeting all fit-for-use criteria. When developing their EEL-approved lubricants the experts of PANOLIN not only met all requirements of the EU environmental protection directives but also made sure the products complied with the company's usual high performance and full compatibility standards. The EEL approved hydraulic oil PANOLIN HLP SYNTH E, for instance, is fully miscible and compatible with the globally approved PANOLIN HLP SYNTH.

Heinz Hörbst, Senior Manager at ECOFLUID, says with satisfaction: “We made a competitive analysis and, regarding the long period that bio lubricants have been in use, it is absolutely extraordinary that we have not received a single technical complaint with fully synthetic PANOLIN ECLs so far. Thanks to the excellent performance of these lubricants we can now replace the common oil changes with periodic oil inspections and, if necessary, with oil maintenance. PANOLIN lubricants prove their superior quality not only in ecological but also in economical aspects through their long lifespan.” Concluding, it can be said that nowadays environmentally considerate lubricants are not just “nice to have” but have become a must in many aspects.    

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