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What is Bio-Based Hydraulic Fluid?

For those of you who are looking to take on a contract for a job that is environmentally sensitive, read on.

Our work in the subsea hydraulic sector working with oil and gas companies brings us into close contact with a variety of technologically advanced equipment. Most of the companies that we work with prefer to use bio-based hydraulic fluid to support their interest in being environmentally responsible.

Bio-based hydraulic fluid can minimise pollution if it does leak. For example hose and o-ring failures are fairly common with hydraulic equipment.  The hydraulic fluid that environmentally responsible companies prefer to use contains canola, soya or sunflower oil as the base. Although they work very well, it’s still recommended by component manufacturers that hydraulic systems are not operated at full throttle, i.e. the maximum load has to be reduced in order to ensure maximum expected life of components.

Most often a maximum operating pressure of 80% is preferred for mineral oil operation. There are costs to the contractor when mineral oil is the fluid of choice. For example, the current fluid will need to be drained and flushed form the system for the vegetable oil and then that needs to be reversed again.

A contractor would need to price their job different too.  They would need to prepare to have a machine that would take 20% more time to complete the job or to hire a larger machine than they may otherwise have considered to make up for the reduction of 20% of load.

Although many firms are interested in using renewable energy to run their projects, it won’t be until mineral oil results can be gained from vegetable oil use that they will be used as part of standard practice on jobs. It will be at this point that the cost of using it will decrease, as there won’t need to be a swap out the oil either. 


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