VSG Questions & Answers
First it is mainly canola oil which is a natural renewable resource. Canola oils
are also low in toxicity with many being food grade for cooking oils and they
also tend to be readily biodegradable. Secondly, the grease thickener used is
relatively benign and has both inherent corrosion protecting capabilities and
extreme pressure resistance. Thirdly, the combination of these two offer a
grease that is ‘green’ and yet outperforms many mineral oil based products.
Some users have found that much less if required so that this is an added
Users include Arizona Public Service, BC Hydro, Bureau of Reclamation, City of
Seattle, Eastern Ontario Power, Hydro Quebec, Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corp.,
Landsvirkjun (Iceland), Manitoba Hydro, Newfoundland and Labrador Power,
Ontario Power Generation, Orillia Power Generation Corp., Ottawa City Center,
Synex Wolverine LLC and TVA.
VSG generally provides much better corrosion protection and wear resistance
while at the same time being more resistant to grease line plugging. VSG has
excellent pumpability at low temperatures and yet also stiffens up in contact
with water so it gets to the bearings and stays there better.
The calcium sulphonate thickener is compatible with many of the lithium and
calcium greases being used for wicket gates. Data is available for the other
types and at the worst an intermediate grease has to be used for a short period
of time. But this has not been necessary yet. We do not recommend purging the
The components of VSG are more expensive and it is still a specialty product
with low volumes. However, as it becomes more popular some costs will come
down. In any case the amount of grease being used for a unit is seldom more
that a drum per year so the incremental cost should be less than $1,000. Given
the performance benefits and the high costs when dealing with regulators,
cottage owners and the like it can be well worth it. One station ended up using
42 times less grease so they saved big time.