The Importance of Lubricants in Clean Rooms
Clean rooms are crucial units within manufacturing facilities that are utilised for industrial production or scientific research. Clean rooms commonly use lubricants to improve the safety, function and quality of their equipment.
Common lubricant types used within clean rooms include hydrocarbon, polyalphaolefins (PAO), synthetic esters, silicones, polyphenyl ethers (PPE), and perfluoropolyethers (PFPE) base oils. Hydrocarbon and PAO base oils are the cheapest but typically can’t meet the high temperatures and minimal outgassing requirements. Synthetic ester base oils typically can’t be used with some elastomer seals and plastic materials used within clean rooms. Silicone-based lubricants don’t usually provide the lubricity needed on metal bearings. PPE lubricants are typically not good at handling lower temperatures.
This leaves PFPE lubricants, which offer wide temperature range capability, chemical inertness, and compatibility with almost all seals and plastic materials.
Lubrication Selection Factors for Clean Rooms
Several factors should be accounted for when considering lubrication solutions for clean rooms. These factors include:
- Evaporation – lubricants used in clean rooms should not have the potential to evaporate and create chemical vapours or decompose and form particles that can become airbourne.
- Cost – ideally, the lubricants would be long-lasting and not require frequent re-lubrication, as this could increase costs significantly.
- Ability to withstand high temperatures – clean room components often undergo sterilisation processes in an autoclave at 121–132 °C.
- Outgassing – lubricants used must be of a suitable density, molecular weight and vapour pressure to prevent outgassing and component failure.
- Compatibility with materials – lubricants used must not be able to react with any of the materials in the clean room, leading to potentially dangerous reactions.
- Quality lubrication – the higher the lubricity of the lubricants used, the lower the wear of the components, and therefore the lower the chances of contaminant particle generation.
Krytox™ PFPE lubricants as Clean Room Lubricant Solutions
Krytox™ lubricants offer unique benefits that meet the critical requirements of clean rooms. These benefits include:
- Supreme level of safety
- Excellent lubricity
- Chemically inert
- Long-lasting lubrication
- Excellent resistance to harsh chemicals and contaminants
- Excellent performance in both low and very high temperatures
- Inflammable – no reaction with oxygen at all
- Increasing component life
- Protect components under high loads and slower speeds
- No corrosion or damage caused to plastics, elastomers or metals
- Non-stick-slip, eliminating jerkiness when positioning components
- Unlikely to outgas, due to high density and molecular weight
- Compatibility with all seals and plastic materials
PerFluorPolyEther Base Oil
A PFPE base oil is a fully synthetic product that largely derives its properties from the Fluorine atoms that form a very strong covalent bond with the carbon atoms. The base oil of a Krytox grease will only decompose under very high temperatures, as will the PTFE thickener.
For high vacuum applications the following 2 Krytox greases are recommended:
The 2 products are distinguished by their base oil. Krytox FPG 182 is based on so-called linear base oil, which means that it can also be used at extremely low temperatures down to -80°C. In addition, Krytox is non-toxic, does not contain chlorine or hazardous VOC materials, is odourless and silicone-free in composition.
Discover our full range of Krytox™ PFPE lubrication solutions that you can use to optimise your clean room processes today.