API Invokes Provisional Licensing for Engine Oils


The American Petroleum Institute is temporarily granting provisional licenses for the ILSAC GF-5 and API SN, SM, SL and SJ passenger car engine oil categories while a committee tries to develop replacement parts for a key test.

The United States-based organization announced April 13 that it was taking the step because testing labs are unable to run the ASTM D6709 Sequence VIII test, which measures shear stability and for protection from bearing corrosion. Provisional licensing will allow engine oil suppliers to license products without running the Sequence VIII test, but applicants are still required to provide some data showing that the oil meets that requirement.

Individuals working on the problem have previously estimated that it could take several months to find a solution.

The Sequence VIII test runs on a gasoline fueled, single cylinder research engine of the same name (originally known as the CLR L-38) and is likely the oldest test engine still in use. For SJ and SL it was still run on leaded gasoline, but subsequent categories specified that it use unleaded fuel, according to industry sources. It is a 40-hour test that measures weight loss of a copper-lead bearings, as well as viscosity loss due to mechanical shearing. Passing requires that weight loss from the bearing not exceed 26 milligrams, and the oils kinematic viscosity at 100 degrees C must remain in the same SAE viscosity grade through the first 10 hours of the test.

The problem is that testing companies have run out of the bearings that were used for the test. ASTMs Sequence VIII Surveillance Panel came up with replacement bearings, but they did not yield satisfactory results when used in the test. The panel then tried to develop a corrosion correction factor that would make the replacement bearings more acceptable, but that attempt was not successful. Now the panel is developing a third batch of bearings.

Whenever ASTM comes up with a solution allowing resumption of Sequence VIII testing, it will notify API which will inform licensees. Licensees with provisionally licensed formulations will then have six months to obtain a passing Sequence VIII result.

The licensee requests full licensing of an oil formulation by submitting a new application through APIs online system. API will review the information and, if it approves the application, withdraw the provisional license.

If a provisionally licensed formulation fails to pass the Sequence VII test, the licensee must notify API immediately. API may demand the licensee recall the provisionally licensed oil.

If a new oil formation isnt received by API by the end of the six-month period, the organization will cancel the provisional license for that formulation.

Engine oils granted a provisional license will be listed in APIs Directory of Licensees without any special designation. The licensee is still responsible for satisfactory performance of all engine oils granted the provisional license.

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Regulations Specs & Testing    Specifications