With the innovative coolant rhenus FU 800, Rhenus Lub showcased a fluid that is free from amines, boric acid and formaldehyde depots at the KSS trade fair in Stuttgart. According to the manufacturer, the new product meets the strictest health and safety requirements and there is no need for labelling.

Rhenus Lub set up an interesting test at Starrag AG in Mönchengladbach by presenting the new coolant without explicitly referring to its particular composition. The customer was therefore initially focussed solely on performance. Michael Bleckmann, Head of Manufacturing at the Starrag Group and therefore in overall charge of the Group’s machining processes, seemed delighted with the results: “rhenus FU 800 clearly met all our performance requirements. We found its flushing properties to be excellent, with good foaming behaviour. The change intervals were impressive”. Many users still believe that for a coolant to perform well, it must have added amines and boric acid. According to the manufacturer, rhenus FU 800 impressively lays this misconception to rest. In a range of practical tests, the innovative coolant has proven that it performs at least as well as amine and boric acid-based fluids. Testing has also demonstrated that rhenus FU 800 can be universally used in demanding machining applications, for example in the aviation industry, where many workpieces have to be milled from a single solid piece of material, ranging from grey cast iron to aluminium through to titanium. Tests were conducted at 14 customers on 18 machines, and the new coolant has yet to reach the limits of its performance. With the innovative composition of rhenus FU 800, manufacturer Rhenus Lub is embracing a simple principle: The best approach is to avoid any ingredients that are potentially hazardous.

Staying on the safe side

Disagreement has prevailed for some time between scientists and manufacturers concerning ingredients and thresholds. Substances regarded as harmless today may be categorised as posing a risk to health tomorrow. Users can therefore play it safe if they avoid ingredients from the outset that may be legislated against sometime in the future. So something that is not included in fluids cannot even cause skin irritations or even other types of damage. Although responsibility for protecting workers always lies with the employer, Rhenus Lub believes it begins with the manufacture of coolants. “We see health and safety today as a preventative measure that we offer our customers, namely users in the metal machining industry”, says Dr. Hans-Jürgen Schlindwein, Head of Coolant Research & Development at Rhenus Lub. Compliance with health and safety standards and environmental responsibility are therefore firmly rooted in the company, and are ensured by means of quality management and health and safety management systems such as ISO 9001, 14001 and OHSAS 18001. “We use these standards to formulate our coolants”, explains Dr. Schlindwein. “In formulating rhenus FU 800 we have consistently avoided all ingredients that are the subject of intense debate at the moment. Our new fluid is therefore the prime example of a modern coolant, combining all beneficial properties into one — it is safe, performs well and has no labelling requirements, making it future-proof for the machining sector”.

New emulsifier system inhibits foaming

In formulating rhenus FU 800, researchers at Rhenus Lub, the lubricant specialist based in Mönchengladbach, admit that they were breaking new ground by consistently avoiding amine and boric-acid-based additives and even formaldehyde depots. In addition, a new emulsifier system has also been developed especially for rhenus FU 800, which foams less and has good flushing properties. Why exclude amine and boric acid-based ingredients? Dr. Hans Jürgen Schlindwein explains: “The consistent amine-free composition of coolants prevents the build-up of dangerous nitrosamines. Any build-up of carcinogenic compounds from impurities that may be present in the amines is also ruled out in the absence of amines”. Boric acid is also dispensed with. This is because, under the latest EU legislation, boric acid is suspected of being toxic for reproduction and therefore damaging to the human genome. The ban also extends to formaldehyde depots. Using formaldehyde depots in the coolant prevents the growth of bacteria. Formaldehyde, the main component in the formaldehyde depots, is categorised as a 1B carcinogen. There is therefore the risk that formaldehyde depots will be given a similar categorisation. “But it’s possible to do without it”, emphasises Dr. Hans Jürgen Schlindwein. “Without there being a statutory requirement to do so, we have found a way to replace these substances with innovative compositions and ingredients. And have done so without raising the pH value”. This is why there is no labelling requirement for rhenus FU 800. This also has economic benefits for users in the metalworking industry. If labelling is required, this must be provided and monitored, requiring workers to be trained. Plant and machinery also has to be modified in some circumstances, at considerable cost. Dr. Hans Jürgen Schlindwein is convinced that “it only makes sense for users to work with coolants that have no labelling requirements and pH values that are very kind to skin, particularly in the case of amine-free coolants”.

“Kennzeichnungsfrei in die Zukunft” [“A future without labelling requirements”] NC Fertigung, Issue 06/2015, pp 62–64