Work Starts on New Heavy-duty Oils


NEW ORLEANS – What was a foregone conclusion is now a fact: Work on the next heavy-duty engine oil category, PC-11, got under way in earnest here at the ASTM Committee D-2 meeting last week.

PC-11 had already been green-lighted by the Diesel Engine Oil Advisory Panel and American Petroleum Institute, but the decision became formal during the Heavy Duty Engine Oil Classification Panel meeting on Tuesday.

From a marketplace perspective, PC-11 seems poised to appear as two new oils, PC-11 “legacy” and PC-11 “new.” The former will be backward compatible with earlier heavy-duty categories such as the current API CJ-4 engine oils, while the latter will be formulated to address the fuel economy and emissions mandates that loom for next-generation diesel engines.

Dan Arcy of Shell Oil, who had chaired the group which confirmed the need for a new heavy-duty oil category, was chosen to head up the New Category Development Team that is responsible for pushing it through to completion. His team will consist of three representatives each from API, the American Chemistry Council and the Engine and Truck Manufacturers Association.

API’s trio are Arcy, Rodney Walker of Safety-Kleen, and Jim McGeehan of Chevron. EMA’s representatives are Shawn Whitacre (Cummins), Brent Calcut (Detroit Diesel), and Jade Katinas (Caterpillar), and ACC is represented by Pat Fetterman (Infineum), Chris Castanien (Lubrizol), and Bob Campbell (Afton Chemical).

The team will meet every six to eight weeks in person or by conference call to develop the tests and limits that will define the new category. Target for completion will be such that the new category can be introduced no later than January 2016.

PC-11 is going to be a significant undertaking for the industry. It will require developing three new engine sequence tests: the Mack T-13, an oxidation test; an “adhesive wear” test, currently called the DD13, to measure start-up damage; and an aeration test. Caterpillar has proposed for PC-11 an aeration test based on its C-13 engine, and submitted it to an ASTM surveillance panel. However, the test will require a precision matrix (intensive runs that demonstrate repeatability and reproducibility) before it can be accepted into the category.

In addition, it’s possible there will be modifications of current tests such as a reduction in test time for the Cat C-13 engine test for deposits and oil consumption, halving it to 250 hours. There will also be tests developed to measure the oil’s biodiesel compatibility. Ken Chao of Deere is leading this effort, but the form the tests will take – engine, bench or some combination – is still under discussion.

As well, splitting the category into two will require some technical artistry. The proposal is for the PC-11 legacy oil to continue to require a 3.7 cPs high-temperature high-shear viscosity and to be totally backwards compatible for older categories. PC-11 new would meet all the engine test requirements of PC-11, but would have a minimum HTHS viscosity of somewhere around 3.0 cPs. It would probably not be offered as backwards compatible.

During the Classification Panel’s discussions, Pat Fetterman, speaking for ACC, commented that the timeline for test development is very tight, and that nine months have already elapsed without significant work since the category was floated. ACC supports the idea of two categories for historical engines versus new engines as it relates to fuel economy, but he cautioned that marketing realities will dictate how this develops. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency appears comfortable with heavy-duty engine oils’ contribution to fuel economy being defined without a specific engine test; but EPA emissions protocols will need to be followed, he reminded.

A continuing concern for ACC is the cost of new category development and how it will be allocated among the various interest groups and organizations. The question is always one of equitable distribution.

Greg Shank of Volvo/Mack Powertrain, commenting for EMA, noted that work has started on the Mack T-13 test. In a separate presentation, Mesfin Belay from Daimler’s Detroit Diesel segment offered some preliminary information on the DD13, and reported that his company has entered into a joint agreement with Lubrizol to develop the test.

EMA has designated members to follow and advise on various aspects of the new category development. As noted above, Deere’s Ken Chao will be involved with biodiesel efforts, and Heather DeBaun from EMA with work on shear stability issues.

The efforts to change the Caterpillar C-13 engine test from a 500 to 250 hour test are cause for concern, indicated Jim McGeehan. He pointed out that the original development work on the C-13 cost over $2 million, and that it would be a shame to lose all of the precision test results in an effort to reduce the test duration. McGeehan, who steered the creation of today’s CJ-4 engine oils, suggested that if the shortened C-13 runs into trouble, it would be possible to adapt the current version without significant cost increases.

The bottom line to PC-11 is no changes to the Cummins ISM and ISB engine sequence tests, nor to the Mack T-11. The Roller Follower Wear Test may be redundant and could be eliminated. The bench tests for PC-11 will be the same as for CJ-4, with some additional attention to shear stability and the introduction of a lower HTHS viscosity limit for the new oil.

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