AZoM spoke to Jonathan Venditti from Klüber Lubrication about the significance of lubrication in chemical processes, and how a focus on these products can contribute toward greener industrial chemistry.
Please can you introduce yourself and your professional background in chemistry, as well as your current role at Klüber Lubrication?
My name is Jonathan Venditti and I was born in Montréal, Canada, where I also completed my studies in Chemistry and Business Administration. I did an internship at a small lubricants manufacturer while I was doing my chemistry degree and I quickly fell in love with the tribology concept and all its topics.
From quality control to formulation chemist and technical advisor… I always stayed in the lubricants industry but moved on into more sales-oriented roles. I am now responsible for the Chemical Industry sector at the headquarters of Klüber Lubrication in Munich, Germany. I collaborate with my worldwide colleagues to provide chemical companies with lubrication solutions to improve the reliability, efficiency, availability, and safety of their processes.
Klüber Lubrication is a leading supplier of quality lubricants for industrial processes. How important is the reduction of friction and wear to the everyday operation of industries like the chemical industry?
The chemical industry is still using a lot of mineral oil-based lubricants for high energy consumption applications. These conventional lubricants are cost-effective, but only at the initial purchasing stage, as in the middle or long-term, they offer a poor coefficient of friction, bad viscosity behavior across temperature ranges, and are subject to oxidation.
Friction is the worst enemy of efficiency. Klüber Lubrication has proven in more than 300 cases that moving away from mineral oils to adopt specialty synthetic lubricants can save up to 7% of energy cost on some applications like Compressors, Pumps, Gearboxes, and Hydraulic systems. The chemical industry strives to find innovative solutions to reduce its GHG (Green House Gas) emissions and improve the efficiency of its processes. Therefore, lubrication optimization should be one thing they should consider to reach their sustainability targets.
You will be conducting a talk on the role of lubrication in green chemistry at the 2022 ChemUK conference in May. Could you define what is meant by ‘green chemistry’?
Green Chemistry, also known as Sustainable Chemistry, was initially developed by Paul Anastas as a response to the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990. This concept includes 12 principles that encompass topics like sustainability, efficiency, safety, and the circular economy. It is basically guidelines encouraging chemical companies to adapt their activities or behaviors to have less impact on us now as well as future generations and planet Earth.
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How significant is the issue of energy and fossil fuel consumption in the chemical industry?
The chemical sector is responsible for almost 10% of the global energy consumption and close to 30% of the total industrial energy consumption. This issue is real and significant as a lot of chemical companies need fossil fuels for their processes, with no alternative to replace this feedstock. Some production sites use fossil fuels as a primary source of energy to run gas turbines at their power plant.
How can a focus on lubrication reduce the climate impact of chemical manufacturing?
Optimizing lubrication has a direct impact on the energy efficiency of machines. By monitoring improvements in the field, we are able to quantify savings according to ISO 50015 and the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol to support energy management systems e.g. ISO 50001.
Besides effective lubricant use in machinery, what other steps can be taken to increase efficiency?
I would say the quality, modernity, and technology of the machinery account for a lot. Modernization and replacement of old machinery is often a useful way to improve efficiency in a production plant. Taking good care of the lubricant itself will also be good for maximum efficiency. It is important to keep lubricants cool and without moisture or other contaminants.
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How must the production of lubricants also adapt to new efforts to minimize emissions?
The production process is one of the important things, as it can directly influence the performance of lubricants. However, the biggest contributors in our fight against friction and our success in reducing emissions at the customer site are our R&D and tribological departments. This is where the magic truly happens. Our specialists are simulating real-life applications on test rigs and go as far as developing new types of base oils so that our new innovative lubricants can reach unrivaled levels of efficiency.
Bearing in mind industry-wide efforts to move toward green chemistry, how do you anticipate chemical processes will change in the next five to ten years?
With the constant increase in energy costs and the environmental legislation becoming stricter, I think chemical companies will have no choice but to invest in renewable energy installations or pollution prevention technology like post-treatment systems and carbon recovery units. Lubrication improvement is still a smart choice to start with and represents a fairly small investment.
After the halt of many in-person conferences due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, how essential are conferences like ChemUK for encouraging discussions around climate action?
Nothing can replace a real and live event. During webinars, most people are too shy to interrupt ongoing discussions to ask questions. Conferences like ChemUK are a lot more interactive, and connecting to people you share interests with is easier face to face. As a consequence, discussions on topics like sustainability and efficiency can be taken to the next level by actively sharing experiences and opinions with other people in the same room. I hope to pique the curiosity of some people and potentially encourage some good exchanges on the topic of green chemistry.
About Jonathan Venditti
Born in Montréal, Canada, and now living in Munich, Germany, Jonathan's scholarship background is in Chemistry and Business Administration. He has been working for over 15 years in the industrial sector as a lubrication and tribology specialist, fighting wear and friction on a daily basis. Troubleshooting issues, improving reliability/efficiency and developing new innovating products for specific applications are his strengths. He is currently responsible for the Global Chemical Industry Market at Klüber Lubrication.
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