Advanced technology and respect for the environment pin-point to perfection the goals and intentions that inspire the commitment of Argo Tractors S.p.A.
Argo Tractors S.p.A. has created the “Clash Oil” project, which has obtained important acknowledgement from the European Commission as well as the financial aid established by the Life+ Program.
What is LIFE+
Life+ is the financial instrument for the environment that contributes towards the implementation and development of EU environmental policy and legislation.
The main aim of the Program is to provide specific support in Europe to measures and projects with added value for the EU that implement, upgrade and develop EU environmental policy and laws.
The Program covers three different subjects:
1. Life+ “Nature and Biodiversity”, principle objectives: protect, conserve, restore, monitor and facilitate the functioning of natural systems, natural habitats, wild flora and fauna, with the aim of halting the loss of biodiversity, including diversity of genetic resources, within the EU.
2. Life+ “Environmental Policy and Governance”, principle objectives: implement, update and develop EU environmental policy and legislation, bridge the gap between research and implementation on a wide scale and promote innovative solutions.
3. Life+ “Information and Communication”, principle objectives: to disseminate information and raise awareness on environmental issues, including forest fire prevention; and to provide support for accompanying measures, such as information, communication actions and campaigns, conferences and training, including training on forest fire prevention.
For more details: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/funding/lifeplus.htm
LIFE10 ENV/IT/428 Project
Thanks to the “Clash Oil” project, Argo Tractors S.p.A. will build a pilot line able to demonstrate how environmentally friendly lubricants can be used instead of the synthetic lubricants now employed for engine and transmission pre-treatments.
The environmental problem that Argo is trying to remedy concerns the use of synthetic mineral oils for pre-treating transmissions and engines, since the environmental impact of these lubricants is very high (energy consumption, production of CO2 and water pollution: just one litre of oil is sufficient to pollute one million litres of water).
A few statistics:
- 1156 kg CO2/Mg of oil for the production of synthetic lubricant oils
- 676 kg CO2/Mg of oil for regenerating synthetic lubricant oils
28 million tons of CO2: the estimated CO2 production in 2010, against 41.7 million tons of synthetic lubricant oils (the data refer to Europe alone)
- +2,3%: estimated annual increase in the demand for lubricant oils
Moreover, use of synthetic lubricants in transmissions and engines creates microenvironments subject to high pressure, high temperatures and contamination from metal debris.
About 20% of the lubricant used in these operations is lost and dispersed in the surrounding environment.
In addition, synthetic lubricants are usually made from dangerous substances.
The project will be implemented in technical steps, as described below:
- optimization of the size of the graphite particles and glycerol concentration, and determination of the most functional bio-lubricant compounds.
- planning and implementation of a functional bio-lubricant collection system.
- design and construction of a heating circuit for the bio-lubricant tank.
- design and construction of an in-line station for filtering/separating lubricants.
- assembly of sub-systems and installation of the pilot system in the assembly line.
- flow tests and identification of the best temperatures for working with bio-lubricants; measurement of energy consumption, efficiency and the useful life of bio-lubricant cleaning.
- tractor field tests with target customers and any improvements that may have emerged during the experimentation and development phase or from the suppliers’ indications.
- definition of the recycling procedures and best practices.
The results expected from the development and completion of the “Clash Oil” project are of double importance:
Advantages for the environment
- the synthetic oils will be completely replaced by 70-100% degradable bio-lubricants (approx. 4000 litres/year).
- less CO2 produced (1150-670 kg/Mg less lubricant)
- reduced gas emissions (-20%).
- lower oil consumption (60 litres less per transmission).
- use of renewable sources for the production of bio-lubricants.
- less pollution and safer oils.
- protection of the soil and water from accidental spills and leaks.
- efficient operation
- longer lubricant life (+20%)
- improved protection against corrosion during storage
- the right viscosity values during flushing
- energy recovered from the transmissions as they are flushed
- less lubricant lost
The environmental problem targeted is the use of synthetic mineral oils in the fluxing/running in of transmissions and gearings. Lubricants of mineral origin, as a matter of fact, present a high environmental impact, ranging from energy consumption and CO2 production, to the pol-lution of water; one litre of oil can contaminate one million litres of water. Recent figures regarding the CO2 equivalent burden of oils show that the production of virgin base oil requires 1156 kg CO2/Mg oil. Considering a global lubricant demand of around 41.7 million of tons, of which one quarter involves European countries, the best available technology, i.e. regeneration, even if reducing of 42% the carbon footprint doesn’t appear a solution since it involves the production of more than 28 million tons of CO2 per year. Moreover, due to the high power involved in tractors mechanical transmissions, lubricants are usually made of dangerous substances, like highly refined mineral oils or zinc-alkyl-di-tio- phosphates, which are classified as very dangerous for the men’s health (danger’s category: Carc. 1B, R38-51/3).
The project intended to demonstrate the feasibility of an alternative pre-treatment of high power transmissions and gearings, by the subsequent use of graphite particles suspended recovered glycerol and bio-lubricants mixtures. The project involved the construction of a pilot line, where the use of such lubricants, together with a stabilizing Ag-containing engineered surface, would have led to an average reduction of 4000 kg of equivalent CO2 production, as well as the elimination of harmful compounds like highly refined mineral oils or zinc-alkyl-di-tio- phosphates and the elimination of environmental pollution deriving from mineral oil spills. At the same time, recovery of glycerol from other manufacturing processes, Fluxing/running in by graphite particles suspended in glycerol would have been performed in order to ensure protection from oxygen and enough cooling of the moving parts of the transmission. After graphitized glycerol removal from the transmission, the final steps have been performed using biolubricants, in a controlled environment. As a matter of fact, the temporary and re- versible stabilization of bio-lubricants would have allowed their use for the next steps of run- ning in, without problems correlated to these oils high biodegradability, which makes them subject to bacterial and fungi attacks.
To achieve the aforementioned objectives, the following means and actions have been imple- mented:
• Optimization of graphite particles size and concentration in glyc- erol to produce a suitable suspension for the preliminary flux- ing/running in of transmissions.
• Design and realization of a functionalised bio-lubricant collection tank with aluminium inserts, in order to provide antibacterial and fungi protection.
• Design and realization of heating circuit for bio-lubricant tank, powered by thermal solar energy and by direct kinetic energy recovery.
• Design and realization of an on-line filtering/separating station for the lubricants and arrangement of permanent magnets for the creation of high magnetic field gradients.
• Tests of fluxing and individuation of the most suitable bio-lubricants operating tempera- tures and measurements of energy consumption, efficiency and bio-lubricant life time and cleanliness.• Field tests of complete tractors with reference customers and possible improvements emerged by the experimentation and development phase, as well as from suppliers indica- tions
• Definition of recycling procedures.
The main environmental results achieved are:
• Complete substitution of synthetic oils with bio-lubricants.
• Recovery of 4000 litres/year of glycerol per fluxing site, using glycerol preferably obtained as a by-product of biodiesel manu- facturing.
• Reduction of CO2 production (1150-670 kg/Mg of lubricant less) compared to a mineral-oil based fluxing plant.
• Reduction of gaseous emissions (- 20%).
• Lower oil consumption due to the fluxing, which replaces two running in oil changes (average 60 litres per transmission per change).
• Less polluting and safer oils, not containing harmful highly refined mineral oils nor zinc-alkyl-di-tio-phosphates.
• Protection of water and soil form casual spills, in case of use of bio-lubricants also dur- ing the service life of the tractor.
• Use of renewable resources.
The LIFE+ programme is the European Union’s financial tool for the environment. The general aim of the LIFE programme is to contribute towards implementing, up-dating and developing significant environmental policies and legislation for the European Union by co-financing pilot or demonstration projects that are important for the whole of Europe. The LIFE+ programme is split up into three components:
• LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity: This supports demonstration pro- jects and best practices having the aim of safeguarding nature and Euro- pean biodiversity by means of conservation and protection of natural habitats and of animal and plant species.
• LIFE+ Environment Policy and Governance: This supports pilot and innovative projects contributing to the implementation of European envi- ronmental policies and of ideas, technology, methods and tools for the development of innovative environmental policies.
• LIFE+ Information and Communication: This supports projects re- lating to the development of communication and awareness campaigns regarding issues such as preservation of the environment, the protection of nature and the preservation of biodiversity, as well as campaigns for the prevention of forest fires.
For further info: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/index.htm, www.minambiente.it