Viewing entries tagged

The Future of Biolubricants

The Future of Biolubricants

This Post was written by Jared Miller and Hani Abukar,
Spark-Y’s summer interns working on the Lube-Tech project.

A big question in sustainable living today is exploring and creating renewable forms of energy so as to maintain our world and make a better environment for future generations. Taking a central role in that subject is the use of fossil fuels in creating energy and in various other fields, in this case the creation of lubricants for the smooth running of engines of various sizes.

Earlier this year, Spark-Y began a collaboration with Lube-Tech, a large manufacturer of oils and lubricants (amongst other business units) to explore the future of biolubricants. What is a biolubricant, you may ask? Well, a biolubricant is essentially a lubricant made from plant based oils such as sunflower or canola oil as opposed to the typical petroleum. It is also known as a bio-based lubricant and is used to a small degree in companies such as Lube-Tech.

Lube-Tech approached Spark-Y with the mission of sounding out the current biolubricants market: what else is there, how viable are these options, who supplies them, and what biolubricants are currently being researched for potential future uses? We are excited to work on this project for Lube-Tech, as the path to a sustainable society necessitates that not only individuals, but groups and corporations take steps towards using renewable resources in their production, and we are very excited that Lube-Tech has tasked us with the mission of taking these first few steps for them.

In addition to the effect that this project will have on helping Lube-Tech to understand and potentially expand into the field of biolubricants, We feel that this project will become a cornerstone of experience for our futures, both as stewards of a sustainable world and as young entrepreneurs entering the workforce, as the aspects of the project involving market research and creating a consulting-style report will prove to be valuable skills for our future career paths. Though we are just starting out on our project, we both feel that this experience has already begun to shape our views on business, sustainability, and entrepreneurship.

Finding a Form for Function

Finding a Form for Function

The following blog post was written by 2018 Lube-Tech Internship Team: Isabelle Paulsen, Tarryn Michelson, Hamza Yusuf, Isaac Groven.


Form and function are always battling; to get one you need to make concessions for the other. Many assume that sustainability is only associated with function, however, we are proving that sustainability can be equal parts of both. With the help of the Bame Foundation, our project is to build an aquaponics system in the Golden Valley office of Lube-Tech, a Minnesota based industrial lubrication distributor and recycler. But this is no ordinary aquaponics system. Our focus is to make this an aesthetically pleasing structure that belongs in an office, not just a functional garden. From the final design to the plants and fish that will grow in this system, we have had the opportunity to totally create a system we believe our client will love and spread Spark-Y’s vision of accessible sustainability. This is not a plain fish tank nor is it solely a structure to grow mass amounts of food; instead we are combining the two features to create a system where beauty and being environmentally-friendly coincide.

As an avid Minnesota outdoorsman, Lube-Tech’s CEO Chris Bame hoped to have only native Minnesotan fish swim in this tank. We loved this idea so much we decided to use as many Minnesotan and locally-sourced species as we could. For our fish, we are housing large mouth bass and walleye, sourced from a local Forest Lake pet store. The rest of our 232 gallon tank will be filled with bluegill from our very own Spark-Y Urban Agriculture Lab. We want to give a special shout out to the Urban Ag Lab intern team that is helping make this transfer possible. For our plants, Minnesota native mint and watercress will be planted alongside basil, lettuce, arugula, and spinach. Sustainability starts with the community and buying or sourcing locally is a great way to make a difference.


Minnesotan woodworker Brandon Anderson is turning this system into a work of art that will fit in any space. We are working together to make aquaponics accessible, that anyone who walks into Lube-Tech’s office will say: “Wow, how do I get this system?” It might not produce the most food, but it challenges the way we think about sustainability by turning food systems into something we want rather than just need. It is not just making sustainability functional but aesthetic too, from hobbyists to businesses around the community. Our small actions add up to make a big difference, but this system is also an example of how companies are taking steps towards sustainability and making large scale change.

Lubetech Presentation 1.jpg

Overall this project has taught us that patience is key. We expected this project to be fast paced and finished quickly, however, we are 5 weeks into it and have hit roadbumps and been stalled. We aren't where we expected to be when we began the project, but we have adjusted and changed the plan. From email communications to waiting for seeds to grow, we are making adjustments. This project may be going slow, but the end product will be a visual representation of the world becoming more sustainable in new and creative ways.