Location: Bio-oils Research Unit
Title: Environmentally friendly lubricant development programs at USDA Author
Submitted to: Journal of ASTM International
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 8, 2014
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Wide spread use of biobased lubricants is expected to produce many benefits including: higher income to the American farmer; strengthening of the rural economy; protecting and improving the health and safety of the American people; protecting and improving the health of the environment; strengthening the conservation of natural resources. Since these benefits are in line with its mandate, the USDA is engaged in a variety of programs to help with the discovery, development, testing, and commercialization of biobased lubricants. The USDA conducts internal research and also collaborates with the private sector to allow for rapid commercialization of discoveries in its laboratories. The USDA also runs the BioPreferredSM program to encourage manufacturers to list their biobased products so that it is available for preferred procurement by the Federal government. The BioPreferredSM program also awards the “USDA Certified Biobased Product” label to qualified products, which manufacturers can use to market their products to the consumer. USDA also encourages the development of biobased lubricants by the private sector, universities, and other institutions by offering grants to researchers and small businesses. Overall, USDA’s biobased lubricant programs have enabled many new discoveries of biobased lubricants to successfully enter the market.
Technical Abstract: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) carries out a wide range of programs to help in the development and commercialization of biobased lubricants. Widespread use of bioproducts will have wide ranging benefits to the environment, the rural economy, and the safety and well being of the American people. USDA’s programs can be broadly classified as technology and policy related. The technology related programs are mostly focused on biobased product development in accordance with the demands of the lubricant market. The current lubricant market is about 10.6 billion gallons per year worldwide of which about 1% is biobased. This brings a lot of market growth opportunities for biobased lubricants at the expense of petroleum based lubricants. Since base oils account for nearly 80% of the lubricant market, USDA’s technology programs are mostly focused on developing robust biobased base oils that successfully compete against petroleum based base oils. The policy aspect of USDA’s program is intended to encourage and support biobased lubricant development efforts outside of USDA. USDA manages the BioPreferredSM program which allows manufacturers to list their biobased products that meet the minimum biobased content so they will be considered for purchase by Federal procurement officials. The program also awards the “USDA Certified Biobased Product” to qualified products. The policy aspect also includes the awarding of competitive grants to researchers and small businesses. USDA is party to several Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA) within the private sector. The CRADAs have allowed and/or enabled discoveries made in the lab to be further tested, developed, and entered into the market.