The fluid used in a brake system is a high-tech product, and it is vital for safety. Hydraulan® brake fluids from BASF have been the customers’ choice for more than half a century, and they are celebrating their sixtieth birthday this year.
Hydraulan brake fluids consist of a mixture of glycol ethers, the corresponding borates, corrosion inhibitors and anti-oxidants. As Dr. Harald Dietl of Technical Marketing for Automotive Fluids at BASF explains: “The role of the brake fluid is to transmit the hydraulic pressure generated when the driver actuates the brake pedal to the caliper. The brake pad in the caliper decelerates the brake rotor in order to stop the vehicle. The brakes can fail if the hydraulic pressure is not transmitted, and this can lead to accidents.” The quality standards that car manufacturers demand of brake fluids are high. Brake fluids have to pass successfully extensive tests in order to prove their suitability: They are subject to severe test conditions such as large fluctuations in temperature, simulated emergency braking and fleet tests in order to gain the official approval of motor manufacturers. BASF’s Hydraulan exceeds the standards and it has been selected by many leading car manufacturers as the first fill brake fluid.
Brake fluids can be distinguished from each other by their viscosity and boiling point. Low viscosity brake fluids are able to flow more easily and to transmit the hydraulic pressure more quickly. This is particularly important at low temperatures; otherwise electronic stability program (ESP®, registered trademark of Daimler AG) or hill hold assistant will react too slowly. The boiling point of the brake fluid is an important factor for ensuring the brake function. Gas bubbles can be formed if the temperature of the brake fluids exceeds the boiling point. The result is that the hydraulic pressure is not transmitted from the brake pedal to the brake cylinder, and vapor lock can cause the brakes to fail. The viscosity and boiling point determine the quality of brake fluids. Hydraulan® 404 is a premium product in BASF’s Hydraulan range that has an optimum viscosity and boiling point, and it was awarded with the “Volkswagen Group Award” in recognition of its innovative performance.
Increasing world demand for motor vehicles, especially in developing countries, has prompted BASF to manufacture its brake fluids in Shanghai, China, in future. “Brake fluids are an important element in our product range. We wish to support the growth of our customers in the automotive industry with a local presence and to guarantee them high standards of quality and reliability of supply”, said Martin Widmann, head of the Fuel and Lubricant Solutions business unit at BASF.
BASF first patented its brake fluids in Germany on July 8, 1952 under the Hydraulan ® trademark. Since then, BASF has been producing brake fluids in theMonoether Plant at its main site in Ludwigshafen, Germany. During the boom years of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, sales of motor vehicles increased at such a rate that the production capacity of the Monoether Plant had to be increased several times in order to meet the demand for brake fluids. The plant has been celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2012, and stands for a consistent high production quality since its startup. “As well as being the main ingredient of brake fluids, monoether – or ethylene glycol alkyl ether – is also used as a solvent in many other industrial applications such as printing textiles and leather. It is also used as an ingredient of hard-surface cleaners, drilling oils, cutting oils and aviation fuel”, said Mirko Haider, manager of the Monoether Plant. “Our customers’ demands on the raw materials in all of these applications are very high. Our products therefore have to pass stringent quality control tests so that they reliably conform to the highest quality standards.”
Further information on the brake fluids supplied by BASF can be found on the internet at basf.com/hydraulan.
About Fuel and Lubricant Solutions
The global business unit Fuel and Lubricant Solutions is a leading supplier to the global automotive and mineral oil industries and part of BASF's Performance Chemicals division. Offerings cover fuel performance packages, refinery additives, polyisobutenes, engine coolants (Glysantin® brand) and brake fluids. Through the recent acquisitions, Fuel and Lubricant Solutions has further extended its value chain, as well as formulation and application expertise to lubricant additives, compounded lubricants, synthetic base stocks and components for metalworking fluids. The business unit has its main facilities in Ludwigshafen, Germany, Cincinnati and Florham Park in the USA, Nanjing and Shanghai in China, as well as Sao Paulo, Brazil. Research and development is mainly driven out of Ludwigshafen, Tarrytown and Shanghai. Further information is available on the Internet at basf.com/fuel-lubricant-solutions.
BASF (basf.com) is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas. We combine economic success, social responsibility and environmental protection. Through science and innovation we enable our customers in almost all industries to meet the current and future needs of society. Our products and system solutions contribute to conserving resources, ensuring healthy food and nutrition and helping to improve the quality of life. We have summed up this contribution in our corporate purpose: We create chemistry for a sustainable future. BASF posted sales of about €73.5 billion in 2011 and had more than 111,000 employees as of the end of the year. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN).