Energy Insider Summer Edition 2022 - Page 2

ENERGY

THE BASICS OF GREASE EXPLAINED

We ’ re not talking about the 1970s movie with John Travolta — we ’ re talking about grease that can be used for all your equipment needs .
Greases were created as a result of liquid lubricants slipping from the point of application . Users found themselves replenishing these lubricants frequently to preserve their bearings and mechanical joints . Some may think grease is just “ thick oil ,” and perhaps a by-product from a barrel of crude oil . But it ’ s not !
The oil used in grease is typically the same thickness as crankcase oil . In fact , the thickness in the finished grease comes mostly from the thickening agent , an additive that is used to increase consistency and improve retention . The National Lubricating Grease Institute ( NLGI ) has established a scale to indicate grease consistency , which ranges from grades 000 ( semi-fluid ) to 6 ( block grease ). The most common NLGI grade is 2 and is recommended for most applications .
Many different additives have been used to thicken lubricating oils . The thickener acts as a sponge , holding the oil in place , but the oil is what actually does the lubricating . Soaps were the first thickeners used and are still commonly used today . While the viscosity of the base oil can differ among greases , the characteristics of the thickener determine a grease ’ s properties .
Therefore , greases are classified primarily according to their thickeners . One of the early thickeners , lithium soap , is still used today and works well in many situations . To increase the working temperature , a salt was later added to the soap to create what is now called “ lithium complex ” grease . Lithium complex greases are typically low-cost alternatives and used across a wide variety of applications .
Refer to the chart on FSSystem . com , which identifies greases that are and are not considered compatible with each other .