There is a new impetus for the use of vegetable oils or renewable oils in automotive applications. The environmental factor promises to be a more steady and persistent force in promoting the use of these products than the fluctuating availability of petroleum. However, increased demand for petroleum by emerging economies has led to an increase in the need for petroleum substitutes. Either because of imposed environmental regulations or society's desire for a more environmentally friendly lubricant, the interest and increased use of vegetable-based engine oils and industrial lubricants will continue. Every year in the United States nearly 2.5 billion gallons of lubricants are manufactured; 1.4 % are automotive-related lubricants, and the rest are considered industrial lubricants. Therefore, the automotive engineer should become familiar with greases and oils and their characteristics as they relate to automotive use. Because this chapter deals with automotive lubricants, the emphasis will be placed on the use of vegetable oils within automotive systems. Furthermore, the chapter provides information on the chemistry of vegetable oils, the general performance requirement of lubricants and greases, standard test procedures required for the oil testing, and the issues of biodegradability and toxicity.
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