Concerns Ease Over ACEA Use of ILSAC Tests

Automaker and oil company representatives say their biggest concerns about European use of engine tests developed in North America have been alleviated and that they are now confident that major problems should not arise from those tests being used on both sides of the Atlantic.

Last month International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee and American Petroleum Institute officials voiced worries that inclusion of several ILSAC engine tests in ACEA 2018 - the European Automobile Manufacturers Associations next light- and heavy-duty engine oil specifications - could create bottlenecks for oil formulators trying to get their products tested, and that it could shorten the lives of these new specifications.

At the December ASTM meetings in Atlanta, the Lubricants Standards group provided an update, reporting that while all concerns have not been fully resolved, the most critical concerns were put to rest. The ILSAC tests being considered for the ACEA specifications are the Sequence IVB wear test, the Sequence IX low-speed pre-ignition test, the Sequence X chain wear test, the Sequence VH sludge test and the Sequence VIE fuel economy test.

The first worry concerned schedule and the fact that ACEA 2018 was due to be issued by the end of 2018, which raised the prospect of European lubricant marketers trying to run ILSAC tests on oil formulations while the industry in North America was still working to finish them. But ACEA has decided to delay adoption of the 2018 sequences, so product testing for those sequences is not expected to impact the GF-6 technical demonstration period. It may still have some overlap with GF-6 development programs, which could impact how long programs take, given test capacity is not endless, but there is more time to investigate and manage any impacts.

GF-6 stakeholders were also concerned that ACEA might try to define test limits for use in ACEA 2018 before limits were agreed to by ILSAC and the oil industry. It now appears that ACEA will accept limits established for ILSAC GF-6. Depending on when this happens, it could further impact ACEA 2018, as they wait for the ILSAC GF-6 specification to be finalized.

North American representatives also worried initially that test hardware could get used up faster than GF-6 is expected to be viable if both specifications used these tests. But after investigation it appears unlikely that this would be a problem. Initial discussions with the labs [showed that] in the past most ACEA products also carried API S claims, so these [ILSAC] tests would have been run at some point anyway, ILSAC Chairman Ron Romano said. Parts procured for the new tests were based on historic use in prior categories. If ACEA products had S claims, as I was informed by some labs, that usage was already considered.

Angela Willis, who chairs the Passenger Care Engine Oil Classification Panel, also developed a model to predict how long tests would last based on historic use. This model currently predicts that most tests would last well into the next decade.

Totals Domenic Faure, a representative of ATIEL, the technical association of the European lubricants industry, gave a presentation about the groups activities including work to harmonize the codes of practices of ATIEL and its North American counterpart, the Additive Technical Committee, and to improve their working relationship. ExxonMobils Richard Dougherty, chairman of APIs Base Oil Interchange/Viscosity Grade Read-across group, interjected to say that his group is working to better align definitions in API 1509 with the ATIEL code.

Faure said he expects ACEA will just adopt the API tests and their limits within ACEA and reference the API guidelines. Dougherty asked about ACEAs practice of tiering test limits for different levels of oil quality. He and Faure agreed that the practice should be avoided with the ILSAC tests.

Kevin Ferrick, manager of the American Petroleum Institute's Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System, agreed that discussions and reports at ASTM had reduced concerns about the overlapping specifications and use of ILSAC GF-6 tests in ACEA 2018. He said he welcomes the opportunity to start a dialogue with ATIEL and forge closer cooperation to ensure best practice and improve lubricant specification development globally. Ferrick said he is working with Valvolines Josh Frederick, who chairs the API Lubricant Standards Group, in planning a visit with ATIEL early next year.