While the vegetable-based fluids cost more on a per gallon basis, the following four case studies actually show a cost savings by the utilization of the environmentally safe fluids.

While driving piles in the Sacramento River, a piledriving company’s hydraulic fitting broke, dumping 600-700 gal of vegetable hydraulic fluid into the river. After initial traditional emergency response; containment, recovery, and reporting, the California Department of Natural Resources allowed the operator to continue working. They agreed to wait 30 days before evaluating fines and long-term remediation. At that time, the water showed no oil, and the fish and plants were thriving. Therefore, there was no fine and no clean up required. As a result, the company saved $30,000 in downtime, $20,000 in fines, and $50,000 in cleanup.

The Bonneville Hydroelectric Dam used an APE Kong 400 to install protecting piles to divert fish from the damn. Using petroleum hydraulic fluid would have jeopardized the very fish the project was designed to protect. The project won environmental awareness award from the Society of Military Engineers (SAME).

While driving sheet piles off of San Juan, Puerto Rico, a sheet cut a hydraulic hose. At least 300 to 400 gal of EnviroLogic 146 hydraulic fluid were released prior to shutting down the machine. The environmental regulator was on site and reviewed the Material Safety Data Sheet. Subsequently, no cleanup other than initial containment and recovery was required. The hose was replaced and the operation was able to continue.

While driving pile in Elliot Bay, a Seattle contractor discovered that a hydraulic hose ruptured and allowed approximately 200 gal of EnviroLogic 146 vegetable hydraulic fluid into the bay. While the contractor used their best efforts to contain and clean the spill, Washington State Resource Damage Assessment (RDA) committee reviewed the event. According to “Oil Spill Compensation Schedule Rule” (WAC 173-183) the contractor was liable, based on amount and type fluid, location and time of the spill, for a fine of approximately $40,000. With support of the biodegradable oil supplier, the RDA committee reviewed the “true” environmental impact, and the fine was eliminated.

Proof is in the performance

The true proof of performance is the field. Any fluid supplier should support their customers with routine oil monitoring and interpretation of the results. Because biodegradable products behave differently than conventional petroleum products, one should not count exclusively on the conventional oil analyst’s interpretation test labs results.

It is important to partner with a biofluid supplier, with enough field and technical experience to support an oil-monitoring program and to be willing and able to support product changes.

Many factors should be considered when choosing a biodegradable fluid. The key considerations to be evaluated prior to selecting any fluid include:

  • Temperature,
  • Pressure,
  • Seals and elastomers,
  • Water intervention,
  • Fluid life,
  • Spill potential, and
  • Client choice.

Readily biodegradable lubricants can save time and money while protecting the environment; however, they must be properly maintained. Because the key to long fluid life and top tier performance is keeping the fluid clean and dry, proper filtration is essential.

For more information, visit www.terresolve.com or call (800)-661-3558.