The new regulation requires the use of EALs in all oil-to-sea interfaces where technically feasible. Seawater is, of course, included in the definition of an EAL and thus all stern tubes using water lubricated stern tube systems automatically comply. The items of equipment mostly affected are oil lubricated stern tubes, steerable/tunnel thrusters, electric pod propulsion, controllable pitch propellers, and rudder bearings. The revised 2013 VGP can be expected to have a considerable effect on both the environment and ship owners.

EAL Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants are lubricants that fulfil the following requirements: They have to be biodegradable, minimally toxic and non-bioaccumulative. According to US regulations under the Vessel General Permit (VGP), products meet the definition of being environmentally acceptable if they bear certain labels, e.g. the European Ecolabel.

Our technical service offer includes:

  • System upgrade
  • All necessary documentation such as Product Data Sheets (PDS), Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and Lubrication Charts.
  • Standard and Enhanced Used Oil Analysis with sample bottle availability around the world.
  • Ship visits by certified Marine Engineers.

Lubricants lost from a vessel enter the aquatic environment, where serious damage to the aquatic ecosystem can occur. Consequently, there has been an emphasis on encouraging the use of EALs on vessels to protect the environment

Because much of the lubricant lost from a vessel directly enters the aquatic environment, there is a greater focus on encouraging the implementation of EALs on vessels. For all applications where lubricants are likely to enter the water, EAL formulations using vegetable oils, biodegradable synthetic esters or biodegradable polyalkylene glycols as oil bases instead of mineral oils can offer significantly reduced environmental impacts across all applications. Although their use is increasing, EALs continue to comprise only a small percentage of the total lubricant market.

Among types of EALs used in vessels, hydraulic fluids are the most prevalent. hydraulic fluids carry the Blue Angel and European Eco-label than any other class of lubricant. A major reason for the success of environmentally acceptable hydraulic fluid is that some of the performance issues associated with EALs in open systems (particularly those formulated with vegetable oil derived base oils), such as oxidation, temperature sensitivity, and biodegradation following exposure to water, are less problematic in this closed system.

Stern tube leakage is a significant source of lubricant oil inputs to the aquatic environment; therefore, the benefit of replacing mineral-oil-based stern tube lubricants with EALs is expected to be considerable. Because of the inevitability of leaks, stern tube lubricants are also subject to water influx and increased biodegradability associated with water contact. While still a niche market, environmentally acceptable stern tube lubricants formulated from PAGs have shown to perform as well as a conventional stern tube lubricant, with the additional benefit of maintained viscosity following water influx.

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