Bio-Lubricants or Bio-based Lubricants or Bio-Lubes are non-toxic, biodegradable products that are used in applications such as automotive oils, hydraulic oils, process oils, de-molding oils, lubricating greases, chainsaw oils, compressor oils, turbine oils, industrial gear oils, metal working oils, etc. Bio-lubricants are made from raw materials which include animal oils and vegetable oils such as palm oil, castor oil, sunflower oil and others. Additionally, they can be made from mineral oil based products or modified renewable oils. Bio-Lubricants are used in applications that have use of machines in or near water, use in machinery which transfers oil into the environment during or after use or TLL’s (total loss lubricants). Bio-Lubricants have huge demand due to its property which includes biodegradable, low maintenance, storage and disposal, reduced emissions, better safety due to fewer emissions, constant viscosity, and high flash points, less toxic work environment and reduces pollution. Governmental regulations in North America and the European Union regarding restricted use of synthetic lubricants is expected to drive the demand for the Bio-Lubricant market. Additionally, lesser use of raw materials in alternative lubricants is a potential driver for the market. However, factors including compromised performance, higher cost and availability of raw materials in an uninterrupted supply chain will cause serious concerns over the future demand for the product.
Raw Material Insights
Bio-lubricants are manufactured using vegetable or animal oils. Vegetable oils are produced majorly in Asia-Pacific region but consumed mostly in European and North American region. Vegetable oils (palm oil, castor oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, and canola) accounted for over 80% of global globally produced bio-lubricants and are expected to maintain market share over the forecast period.
Bio-based lubricants produced from vegetable oils have a high viscosity index (VI) as compared to mineral oil, and thus, vegetable oils have a far better lubricity as compared to mineral oil. There are different types of bio-based lubricants such as automotive oils, hydraulic oil, process oil, demolding oils, lubricating greases, chainsaw oils, compressor oils, turbine oils, industrial gear oils, and metal working oils. In the bio-based lubricants market, hydraulic oil comes next to automotive oils and is used in various industries especially in heavy earth moving equipment such as excavators, and forklifts. Hydraulic fluids are also used in aircraft hydraulic systems which help the aircraft in performing various operations easily. Bio-based lubricants are far better than petroleum based products as they provide naturally better lubrication, superior viscosity/pressure performance, better thin film strength, lower volatility, higher flash point, less smoke and risk of fire. Keeping aside some issues like oxidative stability and poor cold flow performance, bio-based lubricants are quite efficient and effective as compared to petroleum based lubricants.
End Use Insights
Industrial segment was the largest end-use segment for bio-lubricant market and accounted for over 50% of global consumption in 2013. The industrial segment involves the use of bio-lubricants as process oils, general industrial oils and metal working fluids. Commercial transportation is expected to be the fastest-growing segment of the market at an estimated CAGR of over 6.5% from 2014 to 2020. Bio-lubricants are used in commercial transportation as gear oil, heavy duty motor oil, and hydraulic transmission fluids.
North America was the largest consumer of bio-lubricants and is expected to be the market leader during the forecasted period. Europe follows North America in terms of the current consumption rate however it is anticipated to grow at a slower rate during the forecasted period. This is mainly due to stringent regulations regarding use of synthetic lubricants in countries across Europe and America. Asia Pacific is expected to grow at a higher rate due to lesser reserves of synthetic lubricants.
The bio-lubricants market is relatively consolidated with top four participants accounting for 65% of the market in 2013. Key market players include UBL, Total S.A, Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell and Chevron among others.
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