Four questions to Dr. Heinz Dwuletzki.

CARL. Looking back over recent years, which product development was a key milestone for you?
In addition to other different product developments, such as in the field of consistent lubricants, it is our water-based, mineral oil-free Berufluid cooling lubricant we developed with Fraunhofer Institute IVV and IWF Braunschweig (Institute of Machine Tools and Production Technology). What is fascinating is that this process fluid, often called “viscous water” because it can be set to the different viscosities of oil, can replace mineral oil as a cooling lubricant. This product conception has the charm of being deployable in a diversity of many other applications.

CARL. In marketing this product, BECHEM has often made reference to the price increase of mineral oil. This market is currently being characterised by a price drop – note the fuel price level turnover problems of synthetics recycling firms. Does BECHEM come across a non-credible? Are the dampeners being applied to the development of mineral oil-free, sustainable products and technologies?
In one respect yes because the market is being swamped with cheap oil for one reason or another. But mineral oil is definitely a finite product in short supply. Increasingly difficult extraction will cause high external costs, such as environmental harm. Sustainable alternatives to mineral oil remain the future. The strives by industry and legal provisions in regard to energy and raw material-efficient manufacturing, and stricter emission thresholds for cars and their production, are set to stimulate and stipulate sustainable technologies.

CARL. The implementation of innovations often takes a very long time – think for example of diesel engines for passenger vehicles, and streamlined car bodies. What is it like for cooling lubricants? We have a similar situation for process media. The concept is in place, but the step towards real innovation, i.e. broad market launch, also takes years to decades due to the complexity and diverseness of machining processes and many different materials. Often the initial development findings are only the initiation of crucial enhancements, or are the initial spark for new and other more environmentally-friendly production concepts.

CARL. Did this “viscous water” provide any new impetus?
Certainly. It gave us, beyond technical application solutions, much important food for thought for new, sustainable and energy-efficient production concepts. A good example is a project in which the water-based, mineral oil-free process medium is used highly efficiently as a hydraulic fluid at the same time, for machine lubrication and as a cooling lubricant (refer the report on Page 49 – BECHEM project partner at “Environmental Week”).

Dr. Heinz Dwuletzki
Head of R&D at BECHEM Group