All Military Service members are exposed to Cleaner, Lubricant, and Preservative (CLP) products that contain petroleum distillates or other chemicals that may cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. Continuous long-term exposure health effects are a concern to all active duty and reserve personnel, especially weapons instructors, specialists, and armorers. The objective of this project is to validate the performance of commercially available sustainable/biobased CLP products to Department of Defense (DoD) performance requirements. This project will facilitate the qualification of validated biobased CLP products as alternatives to petroleum-based CLPs allowing for DoD wide use. Specific objectives include:

  1. Leverage prior data and analysis, identify unique performance requirements for alternative biobased CLP products, and develop a test plan.
  2. Perform laboratory testing on candidate biobased CLPs.
  3. Conduct live fire testing with candidate biobased CLPs.
  4. Perform field demonstration and evaluation to verify environmental, safety, health, and performance attributes of the candidate biobased CLPs at DoD installations.
  5. Perform a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) to determine the financial feasibility of candidate biobased CLPs.
  6. Develop a Technology Transfer Plan to transition biobased CLPs across all Military Departments and DoD Components.

Technology Description

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred Program defines a biobased product as a commercial or industrial product, an intermediate ingredient, or feed stock that is composed, in whole or in significant part, of biological products including renewable domestic agricultural materials and forestry materials. Biobased CLP products are made from conventional and synthetic plant-based feed stocks, which offer higher lubricity, enhanced solvent characteristics, and substantially higher flash points than petroleum-based products. Candidate biobased CLP products are biodegradable and non-toxic. Biodegradability is noted as a key factor by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in determining if a lubricant is “environmentally acceptable.” Candidate biobased CLP products reduce health hazards from skin contact and respiratory exposure. The product can potentially be used less frequently with lower amounts of product, which reduces the use and exposure to petroleum products, the cleaning time, and the amount of used cleaning products for disposal as well as reducing use of hazardous solvents.


Biobased CLPs’ benefits to DoD will be realized through reduced human health impact, environmental and safety concerns, waste generation, storage, transportation and handling requirements. Biobased CLP products are anticipated to improve mission readiness through improved cleaning and lubricating performance while decreasing the frequency of cleaning over petroleum-based products. The reduction in cleaning decreases the use of petroleum distillates, large volumes of solvents, and lead exposure. This also reduces hazardous material and waste management, compliance and disposal costs while fielding a safer, more sustainable product for the warfighter. A decrease in weapons failures, cleaning times, and cleaning frequency increases warfighter capability and efficiency while increasing weapon functionality and allowing more time for training and operations. It is anticipated that biobased CLPs will provide a lifecycle cost benefit from lower product and cleaning material purchase cost, reduced labor, and reduced disposal of used cleaning materials. Biobased CLP products also benefit DoD by potentially sustaining the warfighter in the battlefield (longer maintained rate of fire, less malfunctions, less cleaning materials required during training and in the field) and will assist DoD in meeting sustainability goals and help sustain domestically produced agriculture products. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2017)