The aim of the current research is to develop a gear transmission fluid based on water and plant extract. Up to now, mineral or synthetic oils are used as lubricants in most gear drive applications. These oils are made of fossil raw materials and are non-biodegradable. Lately, there have been some efforts made to develop lubricants as an alternative to conventional lubrication systems such as triglycerides from native oils or synthetic esters. These lubricants are more biodegradable than mineral oils but also show some difficulties during performance like saponification. Within a former research project, the company Carl Bechem GmbH and the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV developed a cutting fluid based on water and plant extract. With a model sample of this fluid, which also contained gear typical additives, preliminary experimental investigations for a current research study were conducted. The results confirmed the general suitability of this water-based lubricant for gear drives under certain operating conditions. Using water as lubricants can lead to some improved characteristics due to the very high thermal conductivity and the reduced friction. This paper aims to point out the benefits of using water-based lubricants, share the results of some preliminary experimental investigations on a fluid sample based on water and plant extract, and discuss the challenges, which one has to overcome during the development of such new lubricants.
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