Good practice

Soybean oil lubricant substitute

Soybean oil lubricant substitute
© fotolesnik, image #152181223, 2017, source:
Chemical and process engineering, Manufacturing of machinery and equipment
Annual saving:
Payback time:
0 - 5 Year(s)
Resource savings: Waste:
Cut waste management costs
Associated cost savings: Waste:
Payback time:
Up to 5 years
Size of company:
Medium (less than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:

Green hydraulic fluid alternative passes tests

  • Soy oils instead of petroleum-based lubricants for 20 pieces of industrial equipment reduced danger of spills and waste problems
  • Soybean oil is biodegradable and has no adverse environmental impact

Sandia National Laboratory has worked on programmes together with the University of Iowa (USA) and selected vehicle manufacturers, notably John Deere, to field test hydraulic fluid produced from soybean oil in 20 of its vehicles.

Tests of soybean oil substitutes showed excellent lubrication and wear protection properties, equal to or better than petroleum-based products. And using this alternative requires no equipment modification or special handling.

Soybean oil costs more than the petroleum-based lubricant, but this is expected to change as production increases and economies of scale can be reached. More significantly, the soybean oil is biodegradable, has no adverse environmental impact, utilises an existing renewable resource, and will eliminate costs associated with spill clean-up.

Key results 

In the pilot tests, purchasing bio soy (biodegradable) oils instead of petroleum-based lubricants for 20 pieces of industrial equipment greatly reduced the danger of spills and waste problems. The comparison shows, while the annual costs may be higher for the environmentally friendly lubricant, the total cost of ownership is cost-beneficial for the business.

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