Industrial Aerospace Greases - Understanding LubricantsAuthor: James Martindale
There are a variety of industrial aerospace greases available on the market that provide good lubrication, are thermally stable, non-flammable and have low toxicity and low volatility.
The European Space Agency has met the challenges of industrial aerospace greases and the changing needs in the industry. As further, more, colder and warmer planets are explored in our solar system, the basics of industrial aerospace greases are challenged for lubrication and hydraulic systems in machines used in space. These challenges were met with an increasing awareness for the need for industrial aerospace greases that could out-perform those that came before them.
Not only do engineers and manufacturers have to worry about temperature increases but also decreases. The industrial aerospace greases have to be able to withstand a wide variety of temperatures, from well below zero to well above 600 degrees and higher. The temperature fluctuations in space and on earth can be different by hundreds of degrees—and the grease that the engineers use on the machinery has to be able to withstand the changes in environment. Not only is temperature an issue, but vacuum conditions that range in the high end as well as high speed and heavy loads also impact the performance of the industrial aerospace greases.
The European Space Agency is located at the European Space and Technology Center, or ESTEC in the Netherlands. This broad organization is responsible for space missions from start to finish, from research and feasibility planning of an idea and then working it out with the space industry. Within this process, the ESTEC and ESA put their heads together regarding the aerospace grease that will be required for the mission. There are many industrial aerospace greases available on the market already that have been proven to withstand the temperature, vacuum and weight issues that deal with space and air travel and ESTEC looks deeply at each of them to find out which one will best suit their needs for any particular mission.
In the aerospace industry that deals with 'earth-travel', for example airplanes and helicopters, industrial aerospace greases are also used within the planes and helicopters. Airplanes also have similar issues with heat build up and temperature change from warm to cold as well as friction and weight liabilities. The engineers in the aerospace industry for world travel also have to look at the effect the industrial aerospace grease has in applications for commercial, passenger and military flights around the world.
The temperature in an airplane engine can reach staggering proportions. The engines are left to heat slowly, but really, the temperature change in the engines is quite rapid compared to what we would consider 'slow'. As the temperature in an engine and throughout the mechanics of an airplane heat up, the industrial aerospace grease must react accordingly so that it maintains its protective barrier in the mechanics as well as viscosity. The industry for industrial aerospace greases is wide and the application for the products broad ranged. Creating the greases to withstand all the elements known and unknown is a difficult task.