Vegetable oil is fine for salad dressing but would you try it in your car?
The first oils in engines (i.e. steam) were vegetable oils and it turns out that the vegetable variety is a better lubricant than the mineral oil we use today. Plus it's non-toxic and fully biodegradable so you don't have to worry about oils spills or about VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) coming off the stuff.
Yes, there have been problems in the past with vegetable oil in the brutal environment of internal combustion engines, but they seem to have been solved by a company in Ohio called Renewable Lubricants.
Its products are being distributed in Canada now by a small firm in Bolton, Ont. Don Marentette is trying to get bio-based lubricants and other industrial fluids into use with early adopters who want to go green.
Vaughan: It's not the vegetable oil from the supermarket that I should be pouring into my engine.
Vegetable oils are inherently three to four times better lubricators than mineral oil without any additives. The issues are with viscosity and oxidation rather than lubrication. Renewable Lubricants has numerous patents that deal with it.
Mineral oils, whether it be a motor oil or a hydraulic oil, needs a tremendous amount of additives to get it through that lubrication phase. Regular plain mineral oil does not lubricate very well so zinc and/or phosphorus is added.
Okay, back to the vegetable stuff. Good viscosity index means that when it gets cold the oil doesn't harden up.
It affects both high- and low-temperature performance.
Renewable Lubricants' patented technology transforms these vegetable oils into high-performance green lubricants that can endure the hottest engines and the coldest winters. We have product that's capable of 50 below zero.
And oxidation? That when the oil gets cooked and turns to sludge.
Vegetable oils are not the best when it comes to heat, they oxidize fairly quickly. But we have bio-based technology patented worldwide that gives us oxidation performance that is twice what regular mineral oils are today.
Because of our oxidation numbers, we usually double the life of oil changes. It will give you synthetic oil performance at about the same price.
The big thing about our products is viscosity indexes and temperature control. Our vegetable-based products lubricate faster and better so the equipment lasts longer.
Who is using this stuff in Canada?
Right now, our best customers are cities and universities because they want to be green.
The University of Guelph tested our 5W20 motor oil and 15W40 diesel engine oil and a diesel fuel additive and chain-saw oil.
We proved that the bio-based products did as well or better than the conventional products in use at the school.
And because it's biodegradable, they didn't have to worry about spills or damaging plants.
What's this about the petroleum-free boats in the U.S.?
NOAA - the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - uses our products in their weather ships.
These boats leave zero footprint. They run on 100 per cent bio-diesel and all the lubrication needs of those ships is supplied by Renewable Lubricants.
At this point, you're just bringing all the products up from the States.
You name a lubricant and we can supply it using bio-based ingredients.
This includes everything from hydraulic and transmission fluids to greases, motor oils, fuel additives and even a WD-40-like product.
We make a parts cleaner that replaces varsol that's made from soy oil with absolutely no odour.
I'm distributing U.S.-made product now, but my company owns Canadian manufacturing rights. If the Canadian market grows enough, we could start manufacturing here. That would create a market for Canadian-grown high oleic soybeans.