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Industry insights: TOTAL’s BioLife range.


Consumer concerns about environmental conservation and resource depletion are prompting the solvent industry and government policies to replace petrochemicals and chemicals with safer bio-alternatives. Solvents consumers may no longer select a solvent based solely on its physico-chemical ability to perform a required function; they are starting to turn to greener solvents and more sustainable solutions.

TOTAL Special Fluids, a major producer of hydrocarbon fluids for industry have designed a unique range of base oils derived from biomass, combining outstanding performance with unparalleled environmental properties. They have penned a guest post focussed on how they havepioneereda change towards more environmentally-friendly products. Anticipating the changes in regulations and industry standards, TOTAL has moved to the cutting edge of innovation for safer solvents and strive for a more responsible approach.

For more than 30 years, Total Special Fluids has been committed to developing and marketing extremely pure hydrocarbon fluids. Social changes in terms of sustainable development and reduction of environmental footprints have naturally led us to innovate and offer our customers alternative bio-based solutions.

Since 2011, Total Special Fluidshas been engaged in a research program to develop bio-sourced products. This momentum was initiated by the Special Fluids Research and Development teams, particularly thanks to partnerships with raw materials suppliers to screen and study potential feedstocks.

Subsequently, Total Special Fluids selected the optimal feedstocks from among the various Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO) sources supplied by Finnish firm NESTE. Our choice of NESTE was driven by their strong commitment to sustainable development and the availability and reliability of their sources. The raw material is based on a mix of Palm Fatty Acid Distillate (PFAD) and Crude Palm Oil (CPO) which are certified in accordance with the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification scheme (ISCC) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil scheme (RSPO).

The bio-sourced feedstocks are processed in our units in Oudalle (France) to produce and provide pure and selected off-the-shelf finished products meeting market requirements. Significant investments have been made in these new substances to find innovative physico-chemical properties and turn them into technical advantages in applications.

The first industrial trials and customer feedback confirmed that our new range of products, called BioLife, is efficient and geared to market demand.

Our next objective is to find partners looking to establish a link between performance and the innovative dimension of the bio-sourced origin, and able to promote these products to their customers based on strong differentiation. These partnerships could open up new prospects for our customers with new value propositions in their business.

2016saw the birth of our BioLife range and the commercial launch of Total Special Fluids new bio-sourced products. These new biodegradable isoparaffin products are ground-breaking in terms of technical performances and innovation.

resized_bio.jpgThanks to the patented high-pressure hydrogenation HDA technology coupled with narrow cut distillations, BioLife products are tailored for targeted applications with narrow boiling range and offer pure solutions with ultra low aromatics.

BioLife products are pure renewable isoparaffins classified readily biodegradable. They belong to the best bio-based solvents class A (> 95%), according to the definition of bio-based solvents (CEN/TS 16766).

Their low odor brings significant advantages in terms of worker comfort. Colorless and chemical inertness properties mean they can be used in various formulations without altering the appearance of the finished product.

BioLife products have demonstrated good stability performances at 100C, making them suitable for applications requiring high stability during use.

Having a similar composition to that of their fossil equivalents, they may replace conventional hydrocarbons. Moreover, they have the advantage of deriving from bio-sourced origin as well as creating new properties.

These products are indeed very innovative and can be considered a new class of products with outstanding profiles. The set of performances make these products suitable for a wide range of applications such as inks, paints and coatings, sealants, cleaning, degreasing, personal care, home care, drilling fluids, heat transfer, lubricants, hydraulic and metal-working fluids, etc.

Expert view: environmental benefits of BioLife products

Philippe Lemaire (Ph. D.), TOTAL Senior eco-toxicologist expert, European Registered Toxicologist, ECHA panel expert group, and Head o f Total Fluides Product Stewardship and Sustainable Development

BioLife products, an innovative range of renewable isoparaffins, have proved to be an excellent alternative to products of fossil origin. Not only do they achieve better performances but they provide many advantages to minimize impacts on our environment. It is consistent with TOTAL Special Fluids’ vision to market high performance and environmentally-friendly products in line with societal, environmental and technical demands.

BioLife products are the first renewable pure isoparaffins registered under REACh with their own EC number.

BioLife products will minimize both human and environmental impacts. Thanks to our HDA process, BioLife products are aromatic-free with less than 0.005% total aromatic content, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), whose content is below the detection limit of 10 ppb (1,000 ppb = 0.0001%). BioLife products pass the purity requirement of numerous Pharmacopeia including the EU monograph, USP32 monograph, and the Japan JP XIV monograph.

They do not contain any Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) according to both VOC Solvents Emission Directive 1999/13/EC and the Decopaint Directive 2004/42/EC. As for Ecolabels, we have already obtained the indispensable Ecocert Greenlife (personal care, detergency), COSMOS (cosmetics) and OEKO-TEX 100 (textile inks).

They offer an optimal toxicology and ecotoxicology profile since none of them are CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic, Reprotoxic), PBT (Persistent, Bioaccumalative and Toxic) and/or even VPVB (Very Persistent and Very Bioaccumulative).

Based on the results of the most stringent biodegradation test (OECD 306 biodegradability in seawater guideline), BioLife products are classified as readily biodegradable thanks to their unique structure of isoparaffins. Conventional isoparaffins cannot meet these criteria.

Finally, we addressed increasing concern about climate change through the LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) of our products: using the ISO 14040 method, the carbon footprint is reduced by 400% compared to standard fossil products, and energy consumption is reduced by 80%.

Their salient properties include: a low pour point ensuring product performances even at very low temperature; a high flash point facilitating safety in material handling and transport; low surface tension for good spreading and wetting on surfaces.

These pure and renewable isoparaffins show outstanding cold flow properties and good fluidity performances even at extreme temperatures.

Technical Details:



High flash point > 100C

Low pour point < -45C

Viscosity at 40C < 4 cSt

Density at 15C < 800 kg/m3

Surface tension at 20C: 23 28 mN/m

Specific Heat Capacity at 55C: 2.08 2.56 kJ/kg.K

Thermal conductivity at 25C: 0.130 0.140 W/m.K

As a front-runner in the bio-solvents hydrocarbons industry, TOTAL Special Fluids is committed to supplying BioLife products which are already available at industrial scale and can rapidly respond to growing market demand.

For more on TOTAL’s work in bio-based read:Ask the industry: Frdric Meyer, Director Strategy and Growth at TOTAL Fluidesand thank you to the team at TOTAL for submiting this excellent guest post.

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