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News

Coolant developer achieves bacteria resistance from boron-free products

Master Chemical : 15 November, 2012  (New Product)
As a corrosion inhibitor and biostatic agent, boric acid has been a highly effective and cost efficient constituent of metalworking fluids for many years. It is also a substance that is now on the ′substances of very high concern’ list. As well as being more expensive, the majority of products free of boron and formaldehyde donor biocide are not as stable against bacterial growth as their forerunners.
Coolant developer achieves bacteria resistance from boron-free products

Master Chemical Europe claims good - and even superior - performance from its boron and formaldehyde donor biocide-free alternatives. They are more costly but have a longer sump life, which helps to counterbalance their higher purchase price.

Although all coolant usage is governed by EU Directives, some countries are influenced to a greater extent than others by local regulation. “Spain and Italy are good examples,” explained Master Chemical’s Technical Director, Peter Blenkinsop. “Water containing high amounts of boron is known to have a detrimental effect on citrus crops so naturally countries which grow these fruits have historically been more focused on the adoption of boron-free metalworking fluids. In these markets it is also often more cost effective to choose a more expensive boron-free product rather than meet the higher disposal cost of the standard product.”

He continued: “In the UK and other EU countries we have demand for both fluids with and without boron. And this is where Master Chemical scores highly. As we have our own R&D chemists and development facilities we are able to formulate products to suit the needs of individual markets.”

So although the take up for boron-free products in the UK may not be as high as in other countries at present, there is no doubt that larger manufacturers will ultimately fall in line with the wider European trend. Subcontractors will then follow suit.

A bizarre fact about the development of the ‘greener’ boron-free fluids is that it is much more difficult to achieve a formulation that doesn’t require a hazard label. This is because of the boron and free amine balance. “Boron is a good buffer and soaks up a lot of amines which are also added to the fluid to inhibit corrosion and stabilise bacteria. As a result the product contains little free amine.” explained Blenkinsop. “By minimising the boron content, a higher free amine contact can render the fluid hazardous so it really is quite a fine line. We have invested a lot of R&D time in identifying the optimum combination of constituents that achieves the attributes we seek from a boron-free product without exceeding threshold levels.”

Other problems facing metalworking fluid developers are tighter documentation and changing standards. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS now known as SDS) now require the developer to provide a lot more constituent information than ever before, a move that can compromise the security of intellectual property.

Furthermore, in 2015 when the Globally Harmonised System (GLS) comes into force, the current thresholds for irritancy, harmfulness and toxicity will reduce. “We have to be mindful of re-classification all the time,” explained Master Chemical’s R&D Chemist, Gary Charlton. “In the last few months the classifications of several substances have been changed and this involves a great deal of re-formulation work to maintain our product’s hazard-free label status.” With the GLS coming into force in 2015 the speed of reclassification is only set to increase.

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