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Next-Generation Lubricants for Marine Applications

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Oct 19,2023


In today’s world, environmental considerations are paramount across every industry. From manufacturing to maritime, the quest for sustainable solutions has given rise to the development of environmentally friendly lubricants. Among these, Environmentally Considerate Lubricants (ECL) and Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EALs) have gained prominence for their positive impact on both equipment performance and the planet. Let’s delve into the differences and advantages of these lubricant classifications.

Environmentally Considerate Lubricants (ECLs)

ECL, as the name suggests, signifies lubricants formulated with a consciousness towards the environment. However, the term lacks a standardized definition and doesn’t come under the oversight of scientific bodies or governmental approvals. This leaves a certain level of ambiguity, making it essential for users to exercise due diligence when choosing ECLs. Although the specifics might vary from one product to another, the general idea behind ECLs is to reduce the ecological footprint associated with lubrication.

While ECLs offer flexibility and innovation in formulation, their undefined nature can pose challenges. Without a clear guideline, users might find it harder to assess the true environmental impact and performance benefits of these lubricants. This brings us to the more regulated alternative—environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs).

Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EALs)

EALs are a well-defined category of lubricants designed with a focus on biodegradability, minimal harm to aquatic ecosystems, and nonbioaccumulative properties. These lubricants are specifically crafted to ensure that they do not persist in the environment, reducing potential damage to marine life and water bodies.

One of the standout features of EALs is their mandatory use in U.S. waters since 2013. EALs are required for equipment with oil-to-sea interfaces, such as marine vessels unless technical infeasibility can be demonstrated. This proactive stance has not only fostered eco-consciousness but also fueled research and development in lubricant technology.

While ECLs offer flexibility, EALs provide a regulated framework for protecting the environment and enhancing equipment performance. The clear definition and mandated usage of EALs make them a reliable choice for industries striving to balance functionality with ecological responsibility.

Key Environmental Regulations

Vessel owners have come to understand the impact their equipment has on the environment and are seeking to reduce their environmental (carbon dioxide and oil pollution) footprint.

Legislation drove the transition to EALs. In U.S. waters, the EPA’s Vessel General Permit (VGP) 2013 was replaced by the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) in 2020; and for Arctic regions, the Polar Code covers environmental protection matters.

Both technical and sustainability requirements for lubricants are constantly increasing. As a result, environmental requirements and the conditions imposed by manufacturers are also becoming increasingly specific.

VIDA is essentially an updating of VGP in terms of establishing a framework for the regulation of incidental discharges to the normal operation of vessels sailing in US waters, by providing clarity on terminology. For example, specifically stating that certain deck machinery will require EALs.

Panolin Margear Designed for Dredging Gearboxes

Dredging must be carried out with extreme safety and sensitivity to the environment, so the use of safe, sustainable, and environmentally friendly lubricants is important. Panolin Margear allows customers to show a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions over the lifetime of the lubricant compared to the recommended replacement time of mineral-based oil. Panolin can readily provide vessel owners with data showing how Panolin lubricants can contribute towards their carbon dioxide reduction goals.

Greendredge, a lubricant concept developed by Panolin specifically for the dredging industry puts great emphasis on safety, environmental protection, and sustainability.
In the dredging industry, the use of reliable environmentally friendly lubricants is extremely important. Margear has been developed to provide excellent lubricant performance in dredging equipment and to ensure the applications are both operational and compliant with VIDA.

Based on fully saturated synthetic esters with additives carefully chosen to perform specific functions in marine applications, Margear has been specifically formulated for gear systems to withstand the extreme conditions regularly seen in marine operations.

Margear performance factors include:

High thermal stability

Shear stability

Hydrolytic stability

Excellent oxidation stability

Outstanding wear protection

Extreme corrosion protection

The above factors are extremely important for lubricants within the dredging industry. Furthermore, in an industry where vessels are utilized all year round in extreme environments, the need for functioning equipment is imperative. Margear offers customers economic benefits due to the extremely long oil-change intervals resulting in reduced downtime and maintenance costs.

Environmentally Certified and OEM Approved

Panolin Margear offers antiwear and anticorrosion properties, and has been successfully used in a variety of applications including, but not limited to:


Roller Bearings

Propulsion systems including bow thrusters, Azipod thrusters, azimuth thrusters


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