Published: Jan 2009
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THIS CHAPTER DEALS WITH THE IMPACT OF lubricants on the environment. Primary emphasis is placed on the used lubricants since they may contain materials that are harmful to life or the environment or both. Topics of lubricant conservation and the used oil reclamation, reprocessing, and disposal are also addressed and so are the concepts of the environmental compatibility biodegradability and toxicity of the lubricants. Concern for the entry of used lubricant into the environment is on the rise, especially in industrialized countries. There are three main avenues to restrain the ever-increasing use of lubricants. These are to develop equipment, wherever and whenever possible, that does not require a lubricant, extend service intervals, and when possible recycle the used lubricant. In order to attain the extended service interval, one must use lubricants with extended useful life. Recycling is the option to minimize the used lubricants entry into the environment. This translates into cost savings, with respect to buying a batch of a new lubricant as well as in disposal costs, and the potential damage to the environment, if the disposal method is inappropriate. Ways to minimize inadvertent entry of the lubricant into the environment is to use a closed system, where appropriate. A prime example is the modern automobile, where the automobile manufacturers have successfully minimized the loss of the lubricant or its volatile components into the environment through leakage and evaporation. They have achieved this by building closely fitting parts and recycling the volatiles into the engine by installing closed ventilation systems. Many industrial users of lubricants employ such self-contained systems to prevent the unintended lubricant loss into the environment.