An hydraulic system which delivers power to refurbished locks on the River Thames will have an environmental advantage. The Environmental Agency has completed hydraulic projects to upgrade the facilities at Romney Lock, near Windsor and at Bell Weir Lock at Egham. Both locks are similar size; about 78m in length, 7m wide, with a fall of around 2m.
The lock gates were previously keeper operated, but the new system now allows public operation during unattended hours.
The contractors who designed and installed the hydraulic equipment consulted BP on the use of biodegradable hydraulic fluid in the 100l capacity system and were recommended the company’s Biohyd 32.
This hydraulic fluid is a rape seed oil base, is biodegradable, and therefore harmless to the surrounding area in the event of accidental spillage or leaks.
The system itself did not pose any particular technical or performance challenges to the fluid, as the pumps operate at a modest 80bar and are expected to remain at a fairly ambient temperature. However, feed pipes between the lock gates are positioned on the river bed. This means the fluid is likely to encounter sub zero temperatures, which is easily accommodated by Biohyd’s -30 C capability.
The fluid’s biodegradability, measured by the CE-L-33-T-82 test, is 97% and it is classified as not toxic to water organisms. It is soluble in water but will not readily mix with mineral oil.
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