Home » Mineral Oil-Free Hydraulic Fluid – Proven and in Demand Nationally and Internationally: Substitution of Mineral Oil with Existing Technology in Hydraulics

Mineral Oil-Free Hydraulic Fluid – Proven and in Demand Nationally and Internationally: Substitution of Mineral Oil with Existing Technology in Hydraulics

The Corona pandemic and the Ukraine war are rocking the economy and society. Climate protection is an ongoing issue. Supply chains are partially broken and container ships are waiting to be unloaded in all parts of the world, including Germany. The issue of procurement applies to many companies and the question is: How can we become more independent? As a company, can we now use substitution as a means to make a positive contribution to environmental and climate protection while not losing sight of our own goals? With the help of various practical examples from operators of hydraulic systems, this report illustrates the sometimes different reasons for which companies are setting out to substitute oil products. It is about one operating material: hydraulic fluid.

Author / Autor: Dipl.-Betriebsw. Volker Bremer, FLUID COMPETENCE GmbH, Kamen/Germany

SaarGrundbau GmbH & Co KG – Microtunneling

SaarGrundbau GmbH & Co KG, Saarbruecken/Germany, a plant operator in the mining and tunnelling segment, was looking for a way to operate its own machines, such as a microtunnelling machines, efficiently and safely in terms of hydraulics.

Therefore, the rapid biodegradability of the hydraulic fluid was at the centre of the considerations. Due to the consideration of environmental protection as well as the general conditions on the construction sites, which are often located in near-natural areas, safety was another important criterion for the choice of the hydraulic medium.

Fig. 1. In a first successful practical application an AVN 1200 C from Herrenknecht using LUBESAVE from FLUID COMPETENCE excavated and piped a 100 m tunnel. // Bild 1. In einem ersten erfolgreichen Praxiseinsatz für die Nutzung von LUBESAVE von FLUID COMPETENCE in einer AVN 1200 C von Herrenknecht wurde ein 100 m langer Tunnel aufgefahren und verrohrt. Photo/Foto: Volker Wiciok

In a first successful practical application with challenging engineering conditions, a 100 m tunnel was excavated and piped with an AVN 1200 C from Herrenknecht (Figure 1). A product from FLUID COMPETENCE GmbH, Kamen/Germany, was used in the hydraulics. This successful use of the LUBESAVE was then followed by further ones on the same or other construction sites. After these results SaarGrundbau, converted further machines to LUBESAVE.

SaarGrundbau as well as the employees now have extensive practical experience with this alternative to mineral oil-based hydraulic oils in hydraulic systems. They were delighted with the successful substitution and simultaneous improvement in employee protection.

Gasser Felstechnik AG – Use in Swiss tunnel construction

A dumper MK-A20 from GHH Fahrzeuge GmbH was deployed on a Swiss construction site with Gasser Felstechnik AG as operator (Figure 2). The manufacturer of civil engineering and mining machines from Gelsenkirchen/Germany is working on the substitution of mineral oil-based hydraulic fluids in its machines.

Fig. 2. Gasser Felstechnik AG in Switzerland was very satisfied with the technical and envi-onmental conditions resulting from the use of the substitute product in the machine hydraulics. // Bild 2. Die Gasser Felstechnik AG in der Schweiz zeigte sich sehr zufrieden mit den technischen und ökologischen Bedingungen, die sich durch den Einsatz des Ersatzprodukts in der Maschinenhydraulik ergeben. Photo: Dirk Budny (GHH)

It is possible to operate the MK-A20 dumper with a product from Fluid Competence GmbH (LUBESAVE). Beforehand, the experience in handling these liquids in the German coal mining industry was examined. In order to then investigate, e. g., what type of pump and other components should be used in the machines.

Furthermore, the experiences of Hazemag, which is part of the Schmidt Kranz Group together with GHH and, as a sister company, also has experience in the use of the flame-retardant hydraulic fluid in its machines, were decisive. The excellent lubricating properties, thermal stability and high corrosion protection of the hydraulic fluids are also highlighted there.

This MK-A20 machine was deployed with the substituting hydraulic fluid in a tunnel project in Switzerland. On this construction site, too, the focus of the decision is on environmental protection in addition to productivity.

The construction company Gasser Felstechnik AG in Switzerland was very satisfied with the technical and environmental conditions, as well as the reduced risk potential, resulting from the use of the substitute product in the machine hydraulics. In the course of the current project, the Gasser company felt encouraged to continue in this way in the future. As a result, both the manufacturer and the operator were convinced of the properties of the hydraulic medium and felt positively confirmed within this project.

Moreover, the manufacturer of the GHH dumper is very satisfied with the decision to use the flame-retardant and biodegradable hydraulic fluid from Kamen. The decision to use this combination of machine and hydraulic fluid was made before the time of broken supply chains and the Ukraine war.

GTA deployment in motorway tunnel construction

GTA Maschinensysteme GmbH also offers its customers the option of “less is more”, explains Torsten Hüßon, CEO of the Hamminkeln-based company. By dispensing with mineral oil within the work hydraulics, customers can make an active contribution to climate protection. The LUBESAVE product was successfully tested in a Lifter 750 D vehicle (Figure 3). In German tunnel construction, the product was tested in real conditions on a new section of motorway in Germany.

Fig. 3. GTA Maschinensysteme GmbH also offers machines that are equipped with the hydraulic fluids of FLUID COMPETENCE. // Bild 3. Die GTA Maschinensysteme GmbH bietet auch Maschinen an, die mit den Hydraulikflüssigkeiten von FLUID COMPETENCE ausgestattet sind. Photo/Foto: GTA

GTA’s customers come from the national and international mining and tunnelling industries and are themselves confronted with the issues of flame retardancy and biodegradability due to the difficult conditions surrounding the machines.

In addition to its own tests, GTA also draws on the experience of the German coal industry, e. g., with support setting platforms, and offers these customers the option of operating their machines with hydraulic fluid from Germany.

Almost all manufacturers of machines such as tunnel boring machines, dumpers and lifters operate a so-called rental business. This involves renting machines to customers for a limited time window. In this context, they have to adapt to their customers’ wishes and naturally also offer machines on request that are equipped with the hydraulic fluids of FLUID COMPETENCE.

Looking back to Germany: Future opportunities abroad

Particularly noteworthy is the pioneering role of the German coal mining industry in technical development in conjunction with renowned machine manufacturers. Moreover, the subsequent internationalisation of these developments throughout the world and moreover to other areas of industry.

Thus, the beginnings of substituting hydraulic fluids in machines in underground mining go back to changes in the legal framework conditions. A substitution away from mineral oil had to take place. As a result, the individual machines were converted step by step. The German hard coal industry (RAG Aktiengesellschaft) developed its own company standards. In addition, special product ranges were developed for the hydraulic systems. All this happened more than ten years ago and was the beginning of the LUBESAVE and CORSAVE product ranges, both in mobile and stationary hydraulics.

Underground machines such as shearer loaders, shield supports and roadheaders were operated for years without mineral oil-based hydraulic fluids (Figure 4).

Fig. 4. Shearer loaders and shield supports were operated for years without mineral oil-based hydraulic fluids in the German hard coal mining industry. // Bild 4. Walzenlader und Schildausbau wurden im deutschen Steinkohlenbergbau jahrelang ohne Hydraulikflüssigkeiten auf Mineralölbasis betrieben. Photo/Foto: RAG

All those involved in hydraulics were called upon to accompany this process with regard to their own components. This includes cylinders, pumps, valves, tanks and controls for complete production units. The practical experience with hydraulic fluids on a water-polymer basis dates from this time.

As a result, an active contribution to the substitution of mineral oil and bio-oil could be made. This is also connected with the approvals for machines of the mining machine manufacturers (OEMs) from Caterpillar, Eickhoff and Hauhinco. This extends to the inclusion in the user manuals of the machine manufacturers.

During the development process of the liquids, extensive tests for biodegradability were carried out at the Hygiene Institute Gelsenkirchen according to recognised procedures (OECD), or tests and approvals at TÜV Nord or companies like Bosch-Rexroth. All official tests on manufacturers’ test benches are supplemented by the practical experience of the respective plant and machine operators.

The extensive experience regarding the service life of the fluids in the respective machines also results from the level of the operators, which leads to the fact that the change intervals are significantly extended. These references from Germany are one of the reasons for the successful use in international mining companies on different continents.

Fluid Competence now supplies markets on three continents. The economically challenging period was used in the company to establish itself in new markets. In addition to the German mining industry, the products can be found with international mining operators on the Bosporus or in Asia.

Tunnel construction continues to be the focus of the company. In the case of stationary hydraulics, the other industrial segments such as the steel, copper and aluminium industries are in additional focus. Already, well-known companies from these segments are among FLUID -COMPETENCE’s clientele. Here, too, the move away from mineral oil-based fluids in hydraulics has begun. The substitution has picked up speed.

Author / Autor: Dipl.-Betriebsw. Volker Bremer, FLUID COMPETENCE GmbH, Kamen/Germany