Thordon Bearings questions use of EALs

Thordon Bearings cost comparison of stern tube lubricants Thordon Bearings cost comparison of stern tube lubricants
Industry Database

Thordon Bearings has questioned the viability of environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs), claiming that seawater is the only cost-effective and environmentally safe lubricant.

In December 2013 the US Environmental introduced regulations requiring all vessels over 24m in length to switch to EALs in all oil-to-sea interfaces before their next drydocking. Thordon, which makes seawater-lubricated bearings, noted that seawater offers several advantages to other bio-lubricants.

Craig Carter, director of marketing and customer service, said: “When used in conjunction with Thordon Bearings’ COMPAC propeller shaft bearing system, seawater lubricates the bearings to ensure the smooth, effective and safe operation of the vessel.

“Not only do we guarantee our system for a wear life of 15 years, but it reduces a shipowner’s annual operating and maintenance costs substantially compared to an EAL-lubricated metal bearing and two-seal system.”

Thordon claimed that EALs – including vegetable oils, synthetic esters and polyalkylene glycols – are more than seven times more expensive than the mineral oils typically used in oil-lubricated propeller shaft bearing systems.

Carter noted a newsletter from DNV GL in which the classification society noted “different drawbacks in the way EALs react to the challenges of lubricating machinery”. The document noted that biodegradable oils deteriorate when mixed with water, hindering lubricating capability.

Carter added: “While strides have been taken by many EAL manufacturers to combat this issue, the technology has been introduced to the market in a hurry and not thoroughly tested, so there are no guarantees about their longevity.”

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