Base Oils & Lubricant Performance (1 of 3)
This is a discussion on Base Oils & Lubricant Performance (1 of 3) within the Internal Engine forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; Introduction The purpose of this thread is to open up productive conversation into the various kinds of base oils used ...
12-03-2008, 01:54 PM #1
Base Oils & Lubricant Performance (1 of 3)Introduction
The purpose of this thread is to open up productive conversation into the various kinds of base oils used in motor oil finished products. We will also look at how automotive lubricants are marketed as well as theory into lubricant heat control and friction reduction. This thread is not intended to be the final word, but rather an ongoing discussion where all are encouraged to contribute. Please provide links and or cited sources whenever possible.
Motor Oil Base Stocks
Base Stock: A motor oil base stock is usually refined from petroleum or a selected synthetic material. It is the main foundational component of the oil into which additives are blended to create a finished lubricant. Currently, the American Petroleum Institute (API) divides motor oil base stocks up into five separate group categories listed below.
Originally Posted by Base Oil Categories and Definitions provided by Amsoil, Inc.
Theory: Conventional Motor Oil
Originally Posted by Amsoil, Inc.(02/2008)
Theory: Synthetic Motor Oil
Originally Posted by Amsoil, Inc. (02/2008)
The “Synthetic” Controversy
The topic of base oils and their perspective level of performance is generally a controversial topic among motor oil enthusiasts and on up through oil industry experts. Even defining what “synthetic” means results in controversy. Evidence of this can be seen by the conflicting comments made by oil industry experts after the much famed 1999 National Advertising Division (NAD) cases which defined the way synthetic lubricants would be labeled in the United States. In short, the result of the case ruled in favor of Castrol North America Inc. against the claim made by Mobil Oil Corp., that Castrol was not truthful in their advertising. The NAD ruling ultimately changed the way synthetic lubricants would be marketed in the United States setting the stage for what are known as group III lubricants to be labeled as synthetic. See the full five part article, A Defining Moment For Synthetics. Many would agree that the implication of the ruling blurs the lines of what a true synthetic lubricant really is and the levels of performance potential among the various base oil categories. In addition, some argue that this ultimately gives oil industry marketing the upper hand and leaves consumers at a disadvantage. A trip the local auto parts store reveals a dizzying array of synthetic motor oil choices. Terms like Full Synthetic, 100% Synthetic, Semi-Synthetic, Synthetic Blend and Synthetic Plus all grace the covers of motor oil bottles. Without further research, this often leaves one to wonder which version of synthetic motor oil best suites their specific application. Research into synthetic motor oils may also lead one to decide that top tier synthetic lubricants are not the best value for their dollar, while others may draw the conclusion that they will use nothing but top tier synthetics. The reality is that when considering such variables as driving habits, climate conditions, and equipment design, some motor oils fit some applications better than others, having their own proprietary blend of base oils and additives which make for a unique finished product.
For comparison, we will use three different motor oils as examples to help illustrate how motor oils are formulated using the various base stocks, how they are marketed, their associated cost, and discuss the perceived levels of performance each lubricant has.
Lubricant #1: Conventional Motor Oil
Chevron Supreme SAE 10W-30 API (SM)
Base stock – API Group II
Retail price per quart $2.99
Base Stock Origin: Refined from crude oil.
Today, conventional motor oils are formulated with Group II base stocks.
Other examples of Group II motor oils include but are not limited to Pennzoil (Yellow Bottle), Castrol GTX, Quaker State Peak Performance, Valvoline Conventional, Schaeffer Supreme 7000 Synthetic Plus, Brad Penn, and Shell Rotella T.
Note A: Advancements in oil technology like those pioneered by the Chevron Corporation have greatly improved the quality of conventional motor oils and have given way to group III synthetic motor oils. Read more on group II and III oil technologies at Chevron U.S.A Inc. and Shell Oil Company. Some have argued that this type of technology has closed the gap in performance between conventional motor oil and top tier synthetic lubricants.
Note B: Retail pricing provided by CSK Auto, Inc., and Amsoil, Inc., as of 11/18/08
Last edited by CompSyn; 12-03-2008 at 02:12 PM. Reason: Added link
12-03-2008, 01:56 PM #2
Base Oils & Lubricant Performance (2 of 3)Lubricant #2: Full Synthetic Motor Oil
Pennzoil Platinum SAE 10W-30
Base stock - API Group III
Retail price per quart $6.79
Base Stock Origin: Refined from crude oil.
Group III oils are refined from crude oil and are commonly marketed as “Full Synthetic” motor oil.
Other examples of Group III motor oils include Castrol Syntec, Amsoil Extended Life Synthetic Motor Oil, Schaeffer Supreme 9000 Full Synthetic, Shell Rotella T Synthetic, and Royal Purple High Performance Motor Oil.
Refer to notes A and B
Lubricant #3: 100% Synthetic Motor Oil
AMSOIL 100% Synthetic SAE 10W-30 Motor Oil
Base stock - API Group IV/V
Retail price per quart $8.90
Base Stock Origin: Pure chemicals derived from Crude Oil or Natural Gas.
Other examples of Group IV/V motor oils include Red Line, Royal Purple eXtreme Performance (XPR) Racing Oil, and Mobil 1.
Refer to note B.
100% Synthetic motor oils are often referred to as Top Tier Synthetics or Polyalpholefin (PAO) group IV based lubricants. Although PAO Group IV base stocks are not refined from crude oil like Group II and III oils are, there can still be some basis in crude oil. Ethylene is a colorless gas that is commonly derived from crude oil or natural gas. In addition to being a building block for Group IV synthetic base stocks, other products made from the ethylene family can also include plastics and rubber. Group V Ester oils are commonly used as additives in PAO based synthetic motor oils to improve various aspects of the finished product. See also Esters in Motor Oil. Finally, while many companies utilize PAOs in their finished products either as the main base stock or as an additive, there are only four companies currently in the United States that produce PAOs. According to the October 29, 2008 edition of Lube Report, producers of PAOs in the US include Chevron Phillips Chemical, ExxonMobil Chemical, Ineos Oligomers, and Chemtura. See also, Synthetic Lubricants, a paper by Tom Schaefer.
Debate: Friction and Heat
Another area of debate among the oil industry experts is how the various base stocks perform with respect to coefficient of friction and heat reduction. For some, the conclusion has been made that with the advancements in base stock technology, there is little or no difference with respect to coefficient of friction and heat reduction between Group II/Group III and Group IV oils. However, this argument does not hold true for others. Some experts have indicated that PAO oils, or PAO oils blended with Ester oils both offer friction reducing abilities. Further, the purported added benefits of using a motor oil with friction reducing abilities include increased horsepower , higher rpm range, improved fuel economy, and lengthened engine component life. Provided below is responses from oil industry experts Tom Schaefer, formerly of the Hatco Corporation, and Ed Kellerman, manager of Oil Analyzers Inc., a subsidiary of Amsoil, Inc. Also provided is a related experience from an LS1.com forum member on this topic.
Below, Ed Kellerman and Tom Schaefer comment about base oil characteristics with regards to Group IV Synthetic motor oils and friction reduction when compared to modern day Group II conventional motor oils.
Originally Posted by Ed Kellerman (11/17/08)Originally Posted by Tom Schaefer (11/17/08)
Last edited by CompSyn; 12-03-2008 at 02:10 PM. Reason: Added link
12-03-2008, 01:56 PM #3
Base Oils & Lubricant Performance (3 of 3)
Below LS1.com site member, Liquifire, describes his experiences with lower engine operating temperatures when comparing conventional and synthetic motor oils.
While using cost effective Group II/III refined crude oil lubricants in mild-to-mid range performance applications can provide satisfactory results, other more demanding applications may gain additional benefits from utilizing Group IV based oils. Some example include, cooler engine operating temperatures, increased power and rpm ranges through friction reduction, lengthened oil change intervals, and better volatility and cold flow properties. Hopefully, after reading this post, one will come away with greater understanding and appreciation of what goes into producing a balanced lubricant, why some are cost effective, and why costly alternatives may offer a degree of increased performance potential.
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