Effective and eco-friendly lubrication protocol using nanodiamonds in a dry regime for conveyor systems in the beverage industry

2017-03-03T14:19:32Z (GMT) by Carmen Torres-Sanchez Nikolaos Balodimos
Conveyor belts play an important role in the production process. Their efficiency and lifespan are strongly influenced by the use of appropriate lubrication systems, cleaning procedures and operator handling. Overuse of chemicals and detergents can result in belt degradation and corrosion. Excessive friction between the packages and the load bearing surface of the conveyors (e.g. belts or chains) can wear the packaging, delay start-ups and increase product waste. A suitably lubricated conveyor system increases longevity and promotes operational reliability. However this has traditionally been achieved by using large amounts of water and harsh detergents. The solution proposed in this study comprises the formulation of a nanodiamond particle-loaded food-grade lubricating oil, a nanolubricant, for use on packaging transport and conveyor systems. Deployed in a ‘dry’ regime, the nanolubricant is hydrophobic, its viscosity is suitable to be sprayed and a long shelf-life ensures stable dispersions. Tribological performance on HDPE conveyor belts transporting aseptic carton packs was studied. When using the nanolubricant, wearing on the packages was reduced 60% compared to no-lubricating conditions and 17% lower than current commercial solutions used for benchmarking purposes. The preparation of the nanolubricant using sonication technology presents efficiencies and carbon footprint reductions derived from lower energy consumption in the production process. This nanolubricant is an environmentally friendly solution for the maintenance of machinery for packaging and transporting and a novel mechanism to curb product returns due to aesthetic and structural damages on the packaging.