Revisiting these tips to convert to Fire-Resistant Lubes

Nobody wants accidents or fires.

As the world continues to industrialize, however, with industries like aviation, manufacturing, and metal processing continuing to drive economic growth, the risk of industrial fires rises in tandem - but yet remains under the radar of most operators.

In fact, the potential risk of fire is always present - so many common industrial applications exist that may result in a hydraulic fluid coming in contact with a source of ignition or a very hot surface, thereby risking fire. These include die casting operations, continuous casting hydraulics in steel mills, presses that operate near ovens, just to name a few.

In such applications, operators should opt for fire-resistant hydraulic lubricants.

So just as a reminder to all of us in the field about the usefulness of fire-resistant hydraulic lubricants in such applications, we wanted to share a previous post that outlines what they are and how to successfully convert to fire-resistant fluids:

What are Fire-Resistant Fluids?

Fire-resistant hydraulic fluids are specially formulated to mitigate the risk of dangerous and expensive fires, as they are more difficult to ignite and do not propagate a flame from the ignition source.

The International Standards Organization (ISO) classifies fire-resistant hydraulic fluids as follows:

  • HFAE- Oil-in-water emulsions, typically with more than 80% water content
  • HFAS- Synthetic aqueous fluids, typically with more than 80% water content
  • HFB- Water-in-oil emulsions, typically with more than 40% water content
  • HFC- Water polymer solutions, typically with more than 35% water content
  • HFDR- Synthetic anhydrous fluids composed of phosphate esters
  • HFDU- Synthetic anhydrous fluids other than phosphate esters. Examples include polyol esters and polyalkalene glycols

When converting to a synthetic anhydrous fluid, take special care to assess fluid compatibility, because having a small remaining quantity of mineral oil can potentially impair the fire resistance qualities of the synthetic fluid.

What can I Do?

To ensure a successful conversion process, consult The International Standards Organization (ISO) conversion procedures and follow these guidelines:

  1. Check the compatibility of each of the components in the circuit with the fire-resistant fluid to be introduced into the circuit as a replacement. This includes seals, packings, hoses and coatings.

  2. Drain and clean all pipes, valves, tanks, strainers, filters, cartridges and pumps.

  3. Flush the system with a compatible fluid.

  4. Refill and monitor the system. There is a risk of potential filter clogging when you convert to HFC (water polymer solutions with more than 35% water content), as their detergency properties can cause previously formed deposits to dislodge from equipment.