Lubricants play a vital role in various industries and serve a host of domestic, commercial, and industrial purposes. From your domestic sewing machine to your car, heavy transport vehicles to machinery, and aircraft to marine transports, lubricants have extensive application in almost every other machine with moving parts. Marine vessels use a considerable volume of lubricants for marine engines, gear lubrication, hydraulic systems, compressors, turbines, and other equipment.
Types of marine lubricants
like all other engines, marine diesel engines, such as those installed in ships, cruisers, and military vessels, require lubrication to reduce the friction between moving parts and to reduce wear & tear. Marine diesel oil is used as a fuel by these engines, while the parts are lubricated using a variety of lubricants. It is essential to use high-performing lubricants as marine engines have to work pretty hard. Other lubricants include gear oil, ensuring the transmission systems work correctly without getting damaged.
These are also used in every other marine vessel and machinery, including winches, propulsion systems, power boats, and others. Many cargo ships and cruisers use hydraulic systems for handling cargo. These, too, must be adequately lubricated and consume a variety of hydraulic oils. Some ships are powered by gas turbines and require turbine oils. Another important category of marine lubricants is the wire rope lubricant. The wire rope is used for performing various marine functions, including anchoring. Lubricants are used to ensure the rope wire works smoothly without getting damaged.
Characteristics of marine lubricants
Marine lubricants differ from conventional lubricants because they are used in more challenging environments than land and air. One of the environmental challenges that marine vessels and machines have to face is corrosion. The humid air, along with the presence of sea salt, is a perfect recipe for quick corrosion. Therefore, these lubricants are specially formulated to increase their corrosion resistance and offer greater protection to machine parts. As most of the marine engine parts are considerable in size and work constantly, marine lubricants are highly viscous.
Viscosity, however, reduces as temperature increases and the lubricant loses its usefulness. To keep these lubricants viscous even at high temperatures, marine lubricants are formulated to have a high thermal resistance. Like all other lubricants, marine lubricants reduce machine parts’ wear and tear but are engineered to tolerate high pressure. Some marine lubricants have to deal with water contamination and, therefore, contain emulsifiers to work efficiently in the presence of water. Anti-foaming agents are also often added to reduce foaming. Marine lubricants are high-performing and specially formulated lubricants that serve several marine activities and purposes.
Regulations on Marine lubricants
Marine Lubricants Suppliers must ensure that lubricants meet the international standards of IMO, i.e., the International Maritime Organization and many other national and international associations. Some of the regulations and standards applicable in the United Kingdom include the following:
- MARPOL: MARPOL governs maritime pollution by setting standards, including responsible handling of oil & lubricants, safe disposal, and pollution prevention.
- EAL: The EU set forth the “Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants” regulations EC No 1272/2008, which are also followed by the UK.
- ISO: ISO 8216 and ISO 8217 specify the quality& characteristics of marine lubricants. Many countries, including the UK, ensure adhering to these standards.
- UK Marine and Maritime regulations: The United Kingdom also has its standards, rules, and regulations that govern the quality of lubricants, their responsible usage, and their safe disposal.
- National Maritime Legislation: The national maritime legislation governs the operations & maintenance of marine vessels and equipment.
Marine lubricants must be monitored regularly as they are used in a sensitive environment. If they lose their viscosity or thermal properties and go unchecked, they can result in hazards and life-threatening situations. To avoid these dangers, it is a common practice to take samples of lubricants and carry out a detailed laboratory analysis to check various aspects of the lubricant, including TBN or base number, acidity, viscosity, and contamination.
This sampling is often scheduled to ensure constant monitoring at regular intervals. Problems in machine operations may also indicate a need for testing to ensure that the lubricant is doing its job. Many modern vessels have automatic onboard systems that constantly monitor the lubricants’ quality and provide real-time data on computer interfaces or even smart devices. The crew will usually keep a record of the performance of these lubricants. This helps in identifying better quality lubricants and replacing them in time.
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