• Oil and Water

Fuel for Thought

Oil and Water

Jun 20 2021

The International Maritime Organization estimates that 90% of the world’s trade is carried via sea-going transport. A report produced several years ago by a European refinery industry trade group put the figure at 80% by volume and identified more than 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally at that time.
These statistics illustrate the vital part the global shipping industry plays in the world economy. The numbers also provide a sense of the potential scale of the pollution created by the marine lubricants that keep these vessels running smoothly. ASTM members have been instrumental in moving the needle on this issue, which in the United States tracks with the evolution of what is called the vessel general permit (VGP).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented the VGP in 2008 as a way to control discharges from commercial ships more than 79 feet (24 m) in length that operate in U.S. coastal and inland waterways and lakes. Gareth Fish, Ph.D., is a D02 member and technology manager for industrial additives and greases for Lubrizol. He notes that from 2008 to 2013, the use of what are referred to as environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs) was voluntary.
Revisions to the permit program in 2013 mandated the use of EALs if they were available and shown to meet the necessary performance requirements. Since then, Fish notes, “EALs are self-certified by vendors as meeting VGP.”
This self-reporting approach is similar to that of Europe’s biolubricant schema as per EN16807 (more on that below), but can be easily verified by the end user,” explains Mathias Woydt, Ph.D. “In contrast, the European Ecolabel rates the eco-toxicology of individual components. The formulator must disclose the formulation on a confidential basis to a competent body in order to receive the label.” Woydt is an industry consultant with Matrilub and a member of the ASTM petroleum products committee.


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