Synthetic compressor oils

Paul Boughton

The production, storage and filling of beer in large quantities require extremely high amounts of energy, resulting in high operating costs for breweries. Enormous potential for energy savings lies in the operation of refrigeration compressors, air compressors and gears, as their energy footprint can be improved considerably by using state-of-the-art speciality lubricants.

“Reducing energy consumption is an important requirement of the installations’ manufacturers and operators, as energy costs make up a significant part of their total operating costs”, says Michael Stirnweiß, Head of Central Technical Sales at Klüber Lubrication. “However, energy does not only incur costs for the user; energy generation is also one of the main sources of climate-damaging CO2 emissions. Reducing the energy consumption of a brewery is therefore also a marked contribution to environmental protection.”

The energy consumption especially of compressors constitutes a sizable proportion of operating costs. By reducing friction and offering better gap sealing, a synthetic compressor oil based on a suitable formulation can contribute both to a higher volumetric efficiency and a reduction of energy consumption. Less than one percent of the operating costs of a compressor are attributable to the compressor oil. While synthetic compressor oils are more expensive to buy than conventional oils, they turn out more cost-efficient when considering compressor operation as a whole. 

Further factors having a strong impact on the operational reliability of compressors are the lifetime of a compressor oil, its tendency to form residues, relubrication intervals and the oil vapour in the air. Compared with conventional mineral oils, high-quality synthetic compressor oils as are offered by Klüber Lubrication are characterised by a high resistance to oxidation. Compressor oils of the Klüber Summit FG series are based on synthetic hydrocarbons. They are highly resistant to oxidation, leading to a clear reduction of residues. Besides longer oil change intervals, this enables longer filter and oil separator lifetimes, enabling in turn a reduction of maintenance and operating costs.

The operation of refrigeration compressors also benefits from the use of high-performance products. Synthetic refrigeration compressor oils of the Klüber Summit R series, for example, enable refrigerators to operate with high efficiency due to reduced residues and oil carry-over. With these oils, refrigerators can be used for a wide range of applications with evaporator temperatures down to -50°C. 

Both Klüber Summit FG oils and Klüber Summit R oils are registered as NSF H1 and certified according to ISO 21469, making the obvious choices for use in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Further contributors to high process reliability and reduced energy consumption are the synthetic gear oils made by Klüber Lubrication which are likewise registered as NSF H1 and certified according to ISO 21469 and hence permitted for use in the food and pharmaceutical industries. As their synthetic base oils are extremely resistant to ageing and oxidation, these lubricants offer a much longer service life and can increase gear efficiency considerably. Their good viscosity-temperature behaviour means that in many applications a single viscosity class can be used for both high and low temperatures. 

Klüberoil 4 UH1…N oils are gear oils for a normal temperature range and normal loads that even enable lifetime lubrication in certain applications. For high temperatures and high loads, the use of Klübersynth UH1 6 oils is recommendable as the optimised friction behaviour of the polyglycol base oil reduces power loss and clearly improves gear efficiency. Klüber Lubrication also offers a fluid grease, Klübersynth UH1 14-1600, enabling a good supply of lubricant to the friction point due to the soft consistency. The special thickener provides good adhesion and corrosion protection, thus enabling longer component life.

The example of a major brewery with three production lines shows high potential energy savings in the operation of compressors and gears. Their, refrigeration compressor power in operation is 200 kW, air compressor power is 300kW and gear power is 450kW.

Energy ffficiency increases between 0.5 and 15 per cent were proven after the changeover to state-of-the-art speciality lubricants. The energy savings added up to 224,400 kWh, which is equivalent to more than €20,000 per year, taking as a basis 9.4 cents per kWh. Changeover to appropriate Klueber Lubrication speciality lubricants was easy and paid off after a short time.

For a lower CO2 footprint

The positive effects are not limited to savings in operating costs alone. If energy consumption is reduced, the carbon footprint of a brewery improves. Approximately 447 kg of carbon dioxide is emitted in Europe on average per megawatt hour, depending on the regional energy mix of fossil fuels, nuclear energy and renewable energies. The brewery saves 224,400kWh, its carbon footprint improves by more than 100 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

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