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what is Calcium Sulfonate grease use for?

There are many kinds of grease, but when to use calcium sulfonate grease?

Selecting high-end suitable grease will greatly improve the life of the equipment and increase the output. On the other hand, If the type of grease is not selected correctly, it will waste a lot of manpower, material resources and financial resources to adjust the machine for the appropriate grease.

Calcium Sulfonate

Not new to the grease scene, calcium sulfonate thickeners have been around for almost 50 years. This particular type of grease has inherent extreme pressure (EP) properties that stand out from the rest. These properties, combined with the fact that it can be formulated for use in H-1 (food-grade) applications, make it an attractive alternative to other greases.


Many grease thickeners are available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Briefly, a typical lithium-based grease (the most common) consists of a fatty acid (usually 12-hydroxy stearic acid) and a lithium base to make a simple soap that acts as a thickener in the grease.
Components are then added to have EP grease and other desirable performance so that the device runs at maximum performance.

How do you make calcium sulfonate grease?

To make a lithium based compound grease, part of the fatty acid is replaced by another acid, usually diacid, to make the compound soap.
This type of mixed soap structure has special properties that allow the grease to be heated to a higher temperature without losing its structure or separating the oil from the thickener.
This maximum temperature is called the drop point.
The drop point is crucial because it is the point at which the oil returns to liquid form (the separation of the oil from the thickener).
Calcium sulfonate based greases have a higher drop point, which makes them attractive in some high-temperature applications.
Calcium sulfonate grease is made by converting a liquid detergent containing amorphous calcium carbonate into a grease containing calcite particles.
Due to the lubrication properties of calcite particles, performance additives containing sulfur, phosphorus, or zinc may not be required.
This is why some calcium sulfonate-based greases are attractive to the food industry.

The Art of Making Grease 

Max Born, a German mathematician and physicist, once said, “Science is not formal logic. It needs the free play of the mind in as great a degree as any other creative art.” Making a grease is no exception. With respect to calcium sulfonate greases, the art involves the process used to convert the detergent to grease. How one executes this can affect the EP performance and dropping point. There’s more to the art of making grease. There is a range of manufacturers, and sometimes the process used for one manufacturer’s equipment must be modified for another. Therefore, art also plays a role in the manufacturing process.

Concerns with Calcium Sulfonates
Although calcium sulfonate greases have desirable properties, an inhibiting factor is the cost. Calcite particles are the business end of making the product work, but reaching that point can be expensive. In addition, calcium sulfonate supply is limited, while costs are escalating. Plants are operating at capacity, and grease is not the only bidder. Calcium sulfonates are used in engine oil, metalworking, automatic transmission fluid, industrial and automotive gear oil additives as well as other applications. To complicate the situation, let’s compare the treat rates. Heavy-duty diesel applications require an approximate treat level of five percent. In grease applications, the treat levels spike to between 20 and 50 percent. That’s a big difference and a major reason for the high cost.
Another downside is their performance with respect to pumpability and water sprayoff. Pumpability is a concern that can be alleviated through proper base oil selection. In the ASTM D4049 sprayoff test, a thin layer of grease is placed on a panel and sprayed with water. After the test is completed, the percent of grease lost is calculated. Many calcium sulfonate greases typically show significant sprayoff.
what is Calcium Sulfonate grease use for
Test Results Comparing Complex lithium Grease to Calcium Sulfonate-based Greases.

When do I need to use calcium sulfonate grease?

When the benefits outweigh the costs. If the application has specific requirements that only this type of grease can meet, then it is worth the price. This oil performs well in terms of EP properties, as shown in the ASTM D2596 Four Ball EP Test and ASTM D2509 Timken Test. Some formulas also have better performance in salt spray performance. Applications suitable for this category include Marine environments, suspension Bridges, automotive or other applications exposed to salt conditions.
Common applications of calcium sulfonate greases include automotive, agricultural, construction, food, industrial, mining, paper and steel plants.
Specific automotive applications include chassis, ball joints, universal joints and wheel bearings.
Industrial applications include continuous casters, conveyors, ball mills, crushers, offshore and underwater applications.
Calcium sulfonate grease is also used in electric steam valves to control high pressure steam.
These steam valves are commonly found in nuclear and thermal power stations.
An NLGI spokesperson, July 20022, supports that calcite particles, inherent in calcium sulfonate greases, make them an excellent choice for high temperature applications.
Calcium sulfonate greases are usually conducive to rust resistance and have good or excellent oxidation stability.

Composite high temperature lithium grease
Antirust inhibitors are surfactants that neutralize metal surface acids.
They can also form oily surfaces, or barriers, to prevent surfaces from rusting.
Although thickeners can affect oxidation, it is usually based on the quality of the oil.
In the case of the four-ball weld test, a weld of 315 kg, 400 kg or even higher is common with a calcium sulfonate grease. Calcite particles have been described as forming a wafer- or scale-like structure which creates shear planes that trap between the metal surfaces. This forms a sacrificial layer on the metal that is constantly sheared away. After all, it is better to shear the calcite particles than the metal on the equipment.
In conclusion, if the application requires H-1 approval, heat resistance or water resistance, a properly manufactured calcium sulfonate grease may be worthwhile to meet your needs. 

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