JERSEY CITY, New Jersey – The world’s two leading engine oil specification groups have developed a closer working relationship in recent years, which will enable new development processes to move forward more quickly and smoothly.
During a panel discussion on the ILSAC GF-6 passenger car motor oil specification at the ICIS Pan American Base Oils & Lubricants Conference held here Dec. 5, Jeffrey Harmening, manager for the American Petroleum Institute‘s Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System, said the new relationship with the Technical Association of the European Lubricants Industry will harmonize their development processes.
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“There does seem to be an industry desire between the two entities to work more closely,” he said.
Teri Crosby, Chevron Oronite‘s global product line manager for automotive engine oils, supports the new relationship, saying that, “from the standpoint of a lubricant additive supplier, its a really good thing.” But she added that the organizations will also face challenges.
“A better working relationship between API and ATEIL could enable the organizations to cooperate on test development, minimizing testing complexity for lube formulators, reducing cost and ushering in more efficiency,” Crosby said. However, she cautioned, issues can pop up. “What it doesn’t help with is trying to make sure we have all the right parts, the right number of parts, we need. That we can keep these tests going as long as we need for the category …,” she said. “The industry sometimes runs out of parts for certain engine tests and then must modify the equipment that they use or develop a new test.”
GF-6 is the latest passenger car engine oil spec developed for the International Lubricants Standardization and Advisory Committee. Adopted in April last year, it comes to market May 1, four years later than the target date when work on it began in 2012.
The specification has three major implications for base oil producers, said Allan Hee, Chevrons business development manager for the Americas. The first is that it will further encourage the use of highly refined base oils, which will provide oxidation control, lower oil consumption and will work with additive packages. Second, by splitting GF-6 into two categories – GF-6A and GF-6B – ILSAC is taking a balanced approach to introducing lower-viscosity oils. Finally, GF-6 provides the industry with a catalyst for Group II producers to upgrade their base stock quality to Group II+.
Hee predicted that in coming years, Group II producers that upgrade to Group II+ are going to reclaim market share and market their products as cost-effective alternatives to Group III.
ILSAC split GF-6 into two specs mostly so it could add a new lower viscosity grade that can help improve fuel economy. GF-6B covers 0W-16 oils, whereas GF-6A does not. Harmening predicted the industry will decide it needs an even lower viscosity grade before the next specification is developed. However, Khaled Zreik, powertrain and vehicle fluids technical specialist for GM, noted that 0W-20 is the lowest viscosity grade GM has for factory fill, and he doesn’t see the vehicle manufacturer having an appetite for any lower viscosity oil, though that may change in the future.