L&W High-Performance Compressor Lubricant, 1 Liter

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L&W Synthetic Compressor Lubricant is a fully synthetic lubricant specifically for L&W high pressure compressors.

L&W High-Performance Compressor Lubricant, 1 Liter

L&W High-Performance Compressor Lubricant, 1 Liter
L&W High-Performance Compressor Lubricant, 1 Liter

L&W High-Performance Compressor Lubricant is a fully synthetic triester-based lubricant for use in piston compressors. It is characterized by high flash point temperature with excellent oxidative stability. This formulation is specifically for L&W high pressure compressors having undergone extensive testing to ensure minimal carbon deposits. Approximately 500 ml (one-half bottle) is required for one lubrication change in the LW100 block.

More Information
SKU LWA-000001
Brand LW Americas
Weight (lbs) 1.4000
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Compressor Lubrication for SCUBA

The dive industry relies on high-pressure compressors to produce our breathing gases and with a few exceptions those compressors depend upon very specialized lubricants. While many "old timers" still prefer to use inexpensive hydrocarbon based mineral oils, best practice today is to use a modern synthetic lubricant. Synthetic lubricants used in breathing air applications are typically either polyalphaolefin or ester based:

  • Polyalphaolefins (PAO) are made from a highly refined hydrocarbon mineral oil base that has been so extensively processed as to be considered a synthetic lubricant. PAOs are very widely used in a great many lubrication applications because their better performance makes them cost effective when compared to mineral oils. Depending on their formulation, some PAOs are also considered suitable for incidental food contact (USDA Grade H1). The most common complaint about PAO based lubricants is they still have a tendency to form varnishes and carbon deposits.
  • Esters are a higher cost lubricant base that is fully synthesized from acids and alcohols. Compared to mineral oils and PAOs, the ester based lubricants offer excellent performance in higher temperature applications with superior oxidative stability that resists formation of varnishes and carbon deposits. Ester molecules have polarity which imparts lower volatility and thus a higher flash point temperature. The polarity also results in a stronger film that better adheres to metal surfaces, which translates into higher lubricity and lower energy consumption in lubricant applications. Ester based lubricants are the preferred choice for breathing air compressors operating in extreme conditions.

Using hydrocarbon based mineral oils with Nitrox compressors has too much potential for carbon monoxide contamination due to their relatively low flash point temperature. So when the dive industry started compressing Nitrox, PAOs became the de facto recommendation for lubricating Nitrox compressors. Today, PAO lubricant performance in compressors has been surpassed by the ester based high-performance lubricants. Like PAOs, there is no published data available as to how esters perform in Nitrox compressors. However, lubrication professionals we have consulted are of the opinion that if a PAO base lubricant is good with Nitrox then an ester base lubricant would be at least as good and probably much better, given it's even higher flash point temperature plus superior oxidative stability. When compressing Nitrox instead of air, a prudent practice is to reduce lubricant replacement intervals.

The "food grade" nature of PAO based lubricants is often featured in the marketing of those lubricants, but how important is that to safety in breathing air applications? The answer is debatable, but suitability for incidental food contact is probably not significant to evaluating safety of lubricants in breathing air compressors. Compared to hydrocarbon based mineral oils, both PAO and ester bases are considered relatively non-toxic. However, high-pressure compressor lubricants can contain performance enhancing additives for which there is "no data available" regarding their safety for use in breathing air applications. To put the lubricant safety issue in perspective: the reality is that mineral oils, PAOs, and esters have all been used for years to lubricate high-pressure compressors with breathing air applications. For a properly maintained compressor with filtration to deliver the very pure CGA Grade "E" quality verification level breathing air recommended for SCUBA, the level of contamination is probably low enough that the question is irrelevant.

Ultimately the diver is always responsible for making their own informed decisions that balance the risks versus rewards. Whatever your choice for lubricant, never mix different types of lubricants and you should not change types of lubricant without following special replacement procedures. It is important to point out that many suppliers of breathing air compressors specify their own private label brand of lubricant must be used in order to maintain the equipment warranty. The manufacturers of compressors and lubricant are also typically either silent regarding their use with Nitrox or explicitly state use with Nitrox will void their warranties.

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