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Biodegradable Lubricant from Esterified Propoxylated Glycerol

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0018751
Agency Tracking Number: 0000268021
Amount: $1,150,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: C46-15a
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2022
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-08-22
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-08-21
Small Business Information
657 S. Mechanic St.
Pendleton, SC 29670-1808
United States
DUNS: 112087726
HUBZone Owned: Yes
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Zach Hunt
 (864) 908-6811
Business Contact
 Sarah Taylor
Phone: (864) 245-7414
Research Institution

Current hydropower facilities employ a variety of electrical and mechanical equipment that necessitate the use of lubricants to ensure efficient operation of said equipment. The lubricants, either oils or greases, aid in reducing friction, dissipating heat, prevent oxidation, and sealing of water and debris from vital areas of the equipment. During operation, equipment may be submerged or otherwise come in contact with water, posing a risk of the lubricant leaking into a sensitive environment. Development of a high-performance, bio-based, biodegradable, non-toxic, and non-bioaccumulating lubricant for use in hydropower facilities would significantly reduce the environmental risk posed by an otherwise green power generation technology. The objective of this DOE Phase IIB SBIR program is the commercialization of esterified propoxylated glycerol (EPG) as bioderived, biodegradable, non-toxic and non-bioaccumulating base oils and as sustainable, environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs) for hydroelectric powerhouse applications such as turbine oils, hydraulic fluids, gear oils, and greases. There is a critical need for EALs with improved performance and pricing comparable to traditional oils so that operators can demonstrate good environmental stewardship and comply with impending government regulations. The purpose of the Phase II SBIR research program was to optimize and validate esterified propoxylated glycerol (EPG) composition(s) developed under the Phase I SBIR program as an EAL ISO VG 68 turbine oil formulations. The Phase II research program was successful as Tetramer was able to demonstrate that the performance of fully formulated EPG lubricant is better than the petroleum-based industry gold standard. Additionally, Tetramer produced about 600 kg of formulated EPG lubricant and shipped it to the EU for an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) turbine rig test. The fully formulated EPG lubricant exceeded the performance standards under extreme conditions. Currently, 750,000 gallon/year production capacity has been demonstrated. During the proposed Phase IIB program, Tetramer will refine and validate the value proposition of the EPG EALs through performance tests to include efficiency claims in the value proposition. To extend the EPG lubricants market footprint, turbine OEM approvals will be sought. In addition, switch over from mineral oils to EALs will be de-risked by extensively testing of seal, paint, and other oil compatibility, such as used oils, inside the turbines. Beyond hydropower, the development of bioderived, biodegradable, non-toxic, and non- bioaccumulating base oils and sustainable, environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs) has the potential to impact multiple applications and commercial uses including marine lubricants, process oils, industrial lubricants, and automotive lubricants.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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