China Drafts Diesel Engine Oil Specifications

A group of major Chinese vehicle makers and energy giants are working on the nations first lubricant specification for diesel truck engines.

Called the Chinese Lubricant Specification Development Alliance, the group is led by Chinas gasoline engine academy. Members include state-owned CNPC and Sinopec, and five major Chinese diesel truck makers. The alliance aims to introduce Chinese specifications for diesel engine oil bench testing in 2019, and for diesel engine oils in 2020, said Yang Guofeng, deputy director at CNPC Lanzhou Lubricating Oil R&D Institute.

The preparation work took about a year, and now we have got almost everything ready. Im positive that the project will move forward smoothly, Yang told Lube Report Asia.

The preparation work consisted mainly of obtaining diesel truck engines. So far, the alliance received engines from four member companies - WP13s from Weichai Power, 6DM3s from FAW Group, DC11s from Dongfeng Motor and ISG12s from Foton Cummins.

Another member, JAC Motor, went a step further. Rather than providing engines, it worked with CNPC throughout the entire research and development process for new diesel truck engines, hoping to develop oils that can improve efficiency and fuel economy.

The five OEMs dominate Chinas diesel-powered vehicle market, said Dr Yang.

Engines are the key for bench testing. As you can see, Chinas capability of developing proprietary diesel engines is mature enough. This is why we decided to start with diesel engine oils, Dr Yang said.

He noted that one major reason for creating Chinese engine oil standards is that the Western standards used in China the past two decades simply do not fit the countrys current conditions.

Yang cited additives as an example. Diesel truck engine oils in the United States focus on low ash, but in China, antioxidants and detergents should have priority.

Consistency is another issue. China adopted the American Petroleum Institutes engine oil specifications and the European Unions Euro standards on vehicle emissions requirements.

It doesnt make any sense. The two standards should be combined into one, he said. Chinese diesel truck engines, he added, are actually a lot more like those used in the E.U. than in the U.S.

Saving costs is another reason for developing Chinas own standard. On average, a Chinese lube company needs to pay about 10 million ($1.6 million) to complete all bench tests required by API oil specifications, which includes over 10 engine tests, some of which are not even used in China. In contrast, Yang said, it could cost only 4 million to undergo the five engine tests required for the China standard.

Along with the China standard, the alliance is working to establish an independent laboratory that can monitor tests and certify oils that pass them.

This certification will be something like an API certification, which will give credit to all lubes sold in China, Yang said.

The alliance initially wanted to serve only Chinese companies but has since attracted foreign institutions and multinationals that want to make sure they understand the planned China labs certification process - including SwRI, Afton Chemical and Total - as its members.

Its good to have foreign parties join us because they can contribute their knowledge and experiences to the standards. In return, they will get firsthand information about how to produce lubes that will cater more to the China market, Yang said.

Photo: Xinhua/Alamy