Interest in the use of carrier oils as industrial lubricants is growing as lubricant fomulators exploit the potential of carrier oils as bio-based alternatives to petroleum-based and synthetic lubricants. If you are a company wishing to market an environmentally-friendly, biodegradable lubricant, consider carrier oils.
Carrier oils are already used in low-temperature home-use lubricants, such as bike lubes. These oils include Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil, and Grape Seed Oil.
As for industrial machinery lubricants, products currently on the market include industrial lubricants made with vegetable oils like rapeseed and coconut oil, blended with synthetic and mineral oils for enhanced performance and stability. They cater to various machinery types, including gears, chains, and compressors. Other products are engine oils and greases and hydraulic fluids derived from plant-based oils like coconut and castor oil, along with other sustainable ingredients. They claim improved engine performance and reduced wear while being readily biodegradable.
The makers of these products emphasize the non-toxic nature and extended service intervals compared to petroleum-based lubricants.
In their "natural" state, however, most common carrier oils like coconut, olive, or almond, lack the necessary properties for heavy-duty industrial applications. They have low viscosity (resistance to flow), poor oxidation stability (degrade quickly under high temperatures), and limited anti-wear and friction-reducing capabilities. These limitations make them unsuitable for demanding industrial machinery.

Modified Carrier Oils


Research is actively exploring

Research is actively exploring modifying carrier oils through chemical alterations and blending them with additives to enhance their lubricating properties.

Examples include

o Esterification: Converting fatty acids in oils into esters improves viscosity and oxidation stability. 
o Additive blends: Adding anti-wear and friction-reducing additives can address specific shortcomings. 
o Genetic engineering: Modifying the fatty acid composition of plants to produce oils with tailored properties for lubrication.

Potential Advantages of Modified Carrier Oils



Unlike petroleum-based lubricants, modified carrier oils can biodegrade, minimizing environmental impact in case of spills or leaks.


Derived from plant sources, carrier oils are a renewable resource compared to finite fossil fuels.

Reduced toxicity

Compared to some synthetic lubricants, modified carrier oils pose lower toxicity risks to the environment.

Challenges and Limitations

Performance: Modified carrier oils may not yet match the performance of high-grade synthetic lubricants in all aspects, especially under extreme conditions.

Summary: While some carrier oils are being used in light-duty lubrication, most carrier oils aren't directly suitable for heavy-duty industrial lubrication, especially at high temperatures. Research on modified and blended versions holds promise for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.