GERMANY: Compressor manufacturer Bitzer has warned of counterfeit refrigeration oils which can lead to compressor breakdowns.

The German company has long been a target for counterfeiters keen to profit from fake versions of the company’s market-leading compressors, spare parts and pressure vessels. However, product pirates not only sell counterfeit compressors, they also bring low-quality oils onto the market. The Cooling Post previously reported on fake Bitzer-brand oil being uncovered in Russia in 2015. Now Bitzer has revealed incidents in Vietnam and Korea where counterfeiters partly disguised their imitations with Bitzer branding.

Bitzer’s investigations in Vietnam uncovered several fake oils, sold in containers purporting to contain Bitzer oils B320SH, BSE32, BSE170 and B100, but actually containing a low quality fake.

The oils were said to be of vastly inferior quality, whose chemical formulation differed greatly from the originals. In particular, the viscosity characteristics, moisture content and chemical formulation were very different from the original products.

Bitzer warns that using the fake product can lead to insufficient compressor lubrication, chemical reactions and destruction of elastomers. In the imitation BSE170 oil, for instance, the moisture content was three times higher than the permissible value. Bitzer points out that high moisture content in polyolester oils like BSE170 is particularly critical because it leads to hydrolysis and acid formation. This in turn causes copper plating and results in damage to critical moving parts and possible motor burn-out.

In 2015, a Russian distributor issued a warning to customers after discovering a “small quantity” of the Bitzer-brand lubricant B5.2 on the market. B5.2 is a semi-synthetic oil designed for use with Bitzer R22 reciprocating and screw compressors. The packaging and labels of the counterfeit oil were said to be very similar to the authentic product.

In that same year, Rob de Bruyn, Bitzer’s Asia MD revealed that the number of counterfeit products in that region was equivalent to one third of all the Bitzer products sold. “In addition to copied compressors, the use of counterfeit refrigerants and oils is also dangerous. They can damage original compressors, which in the worst-case scenario can lead to an explosion,” he added.

In the end, says Bitzer, the consequences of supposedly cheap forgeries are by far more expensive than the expected savings.

Bitzer refrigeration oils are subject to Bitzer quality assurance and are delivered in metal packages which allow no moisture to ingress, even after longer periods of storage. Furthermore, safety data sheets are available as standard in several languages for all Bitzer oils.

Customers who have concerns about the origin of their lubricant are advised to contact their local Bitzer representative for advice.

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