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November 21, 2017

Volume 7 Issue 8

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Regs to Boost Biobased Lubes

Asian policymakers’ continual tightening of environmental regulations is expected to help spur biobased lubricants demand growth in the region out to 2021, according to Kline & Co.

The public is mounting growing pressure on policymakers to stem the deterioration of the environment in countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Sharbel Luzuriaga, project manager for Kline’s Energy Practice, said in a webinar Nov. 15.

A number of Asia-Pacific countries are considered price-sensitive, developing markets for biobased lubricants. In the past, many were sacrificing environmental conditions for rapid industrial growth, Luzuriaga noted. “However, nowadays we are witnessing a revised interest in ‘green’ products in Asia-Pacific,” due to accelerated regulation of environmental and human safety factors. Going forward, he said, Asia-Pacific will be a thriving growth market for biobased lubricants.

The market research firm estimated global biobased lubricant demand at about 250,000 to 300,000 metric tons in 2016. Asia-Pacific accounted for less than a quarter of that, trailing North America and Europe. However, Asia-Pacific and North America are projected to exhibit growth rates above the global average through 2021. Kline projects Asia-Pacific’s biobased lubricants market to grow at a compound annual rate of more than 5 percent through 2021.

Hydraulic fluid is the product category with the largest volume of biobased lubricants, accounting for nearly half of global demand. It’s followed in order by metalworking fluids, chainsaw oils, transformer oils, automotive engine oils, industrial gear oil, greases and 2-stroke and 4-stoke engine oils.

The research firm ranked the United States as the largest biobased lubricants market in 2016, with Germany well behind and South Korea third.

Kline defines “bio-lubricants” in terms of biodegradability, toxicity and renewability. These products meet the definition of “readily biodegradable,” Luzuriaga explained, meaning that they biodegrade at least 60 percent within 28 days. They pass the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s OECD 201, 202 and 203 tests for acute toxicity and OECD 210-211 tests for chronic toxicity, or the equivalent ASTM D-6064. Kline recognizes the European Committee for Standardization’s CEN 16227 definition for renewability: having more than 25 percent of carbon from biobased sources.

Original equipment manufacturers are playing an increasingly important role in biobased lubricants, Luzuriaga continued, developing more specifications for biobased lubricants.

The name of the study is “Bio-lubricants: Market Analysis and Opportunities.” The study covers 12 country markets profiles, including China, South Korea, Japan and Australia.