API Chews On Heavy-duty Issues

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HOUSTON — At its Nov. 8 meeting here, members of the American Petroleum Institute’s influential Lubricants Committee reviewed progress toward PC-10, the next diesel engine oil upgrade, and the critical issue of how to fund its development. They also heard reports on the status of the API engine oil licensing and quality audit program.

PC-10, which stands for Proposed Category 10, is already under intensive development, with the principal technical work being conducted in ASTM’s Diesel Engine Oil Classification Panel chaired by ChevronTexaco’s Jim McGeehan. The key to this new category, as with any new engine oil upgrade, is the battery of engine sequence tests that will be used to measure its performance.

Valvoline’s Bill Runkle presented an interim report on the three engine tests under development for PC-10. While the Cummins ISB engine test, which measures soot-related valvetrain wear, will likely be ready for matrix testing this month (December), “the readiness for matrix testing of the two remaining new tests is less certain,” he said. “The Mack T-12, which measures ring, liner wear and bearing corrosion, may not be ready by next month, but probably will be ready a month later [January 2005]. However, the Caterpillar C-13, which measures piston deposits and oil consumption, probably will not be ready until after January.”

These tests as well as other PC-10 development issues are being evaluated in several venues: in ASTM, in the Engine Manufacturers Association, which represents diesel engine manufacturers, and in the joint EMA/API Engine Oil Advisory Panel, specifically its New Category Development Team.

How to fund the test development remains a key issue. New tests must sustain a testing matrix of between 20 and 30 test runs in order to establish test precision. This testing protocol is highly detailed and technically explicit — and will cost at least $5 million to complete. The Cummins ISB test, for example, is expected to cost up to $75,000 per run, and the Caterpillar C-13 and Mack T-12 more than $100,000 each. Initial matrix testing is scheduled for next April.

API and the American Chemistry Council, which represents the lubricant additive industry, each have agreed to match up to $1 million of EMA’s contribution, which all parties have agreed can be made in cash or in-kind. EMA’s in-kind support, which includes items such as test engines andengine rebuild kits,has already been spelled out in detail andis valued atnearly $700,000.

Another major issue facing EMA and ASTM is how to deal with timeline slippage. Their options are to go forward with only tests that are ready at the scheduled time for matrix testing to begin, reduce the technology demonstration period, shorten the qualification period, or delay first licensing. The last is not a realistic option because the diesel oil upgrade is required to lubricate new engines which must be introduced in late 2006 in order to meet tightened emissions requirements.

Lubrizol’s Lew Williams presented a “best guess” PC-10 timeline, compared to the currently accepted one. Both timelines end up at the same place — with first API licensing of CJ-4 (API’s likely official designation for the PC-10) in the third quarter of 2006. However, “Lubrizol projects a delayed ending point for the PC-10 precision/base oil interchange matrix and a slightly shortened time period for both the technology demonstration and product approval periods,” Williams told the Nov. 8 meeting. “The definition of limits will also be slightly pushed back.”

All of these issues are on the agenda for next week’s meeting of ASTM’s Heavy Duty Engine Oil Classification Panel, Dec. 7 in Tampa, Fla. “Reviewing the status of the proposed new engine tests is our main goal next week,” Panel Chairman Jim McGeehan told Lube Report yesterday, “but we don’t expect to make final decisions then. We’ve scheduled another meeting in January and one in late February at which we expect to wrap up the test selection issue, with matrix testing to begin shortly thereafter.”

The Lubricants Committee also heard that through the end of October, API had licensed engine oils from 529 companies, roughly the same number as in all of 2003. The number of countries with at least one licensee also was about even, at 52, said API’s Kevin Ferrick. The total number of licensed products in 2004 has jumped to 6,700, from 6,300 last year. There were a few more licensees in Asia (136) in 2004, and a few less in Europe (52). About half of all licensees (255) are from the United States and Canada.

API has been licensing passenger car engine oils to the new GF-4 specification since July 31, and 96 of these oils had been licensed through the end of October. These are oils which may display the API “starburst” logo. For the prior category, GF-3, 1,239 oils have been licensed.

The new diesel engine oil category, CF-4 PLUS, approved for first licensing on Sept. 1, 2004, saw 62 oils licensed by the end of October.

API’s program to evaluate the quality of licensed oils in the marketplace, its Aftermarket Audit Program or AMAP, was also on the agenda. Under this program, samples of formulated, licensed oils are obtained from the marketplace and tested to demonstrate that they comply with the terms of the license.

In both 2004 and 2005, Ferrick said, API is planning on testing the physical and chemical properties of 600 products, split 70/30 between gasoline and diesel engine oils. Up to 30 percent of the samples will be selected from bulk sites, such as quick lubes and lube distribution outlets. No information was provided on the proposed split for samples from North America versus other areas.

The number of engine tests to be conducted for the 2005 audit program will be determined in the spring by the Administrative Guidance Council, a coordinating body of oil marketers and vehicle manufacturers, and API’s Lubricants Committee. In past years, eight to 12 samples of oils from the marketplace have been selected for engine sequence testing. The volume of tests will depend on funds available in API’s EOLCS budget (approximately $2 million per year obtained from licensing fees) and the marketplace availability of GF-4 oils, from which testing candidates will be selected. Engine tests most likely to be conducted are the Sequence IIIG and VG.

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