Mack Raises Diesel Oil Bar


Mack Trucks Inc. plans this week to issue an upgraded specification for heavy-duty engine oils with more stringent requirements for viscosity maintenance in the face of soot loading and shear stability.

The change will likely require reformulation by oil marketers trying to accommodate one of the nations largest truck engine manufacturers. Beyond that, observers said Macks action is symptomatic of a desire by engine makers in general to improve APIs current industrywide CI-4 specification for diesel engineoils.

The new Mack specification will replace the companys existing EO-N Premium Plus specification, according to Greg Shank, senior staff engineer in charge of lubricants, coolants and filtration for Mack/Volvo Powertrain in Hagerstown, Md. The new spec does not yet have an official name but is being referred to as EO-N Premium Plus (2003), Shank said, adding that the company plans to issue the spec this week and to have a list of oils meeting it by Oct. 1.

Shank said the new spec raises the bar on an oils ability to accept higher levels of soot without thickening and while continuing to protect against engine wear. Mack decided to put more emphasis on this parameter because of tougheremissions limits that went into effect last year. Mack and other engine makers met the regulations by adding exhaust gas recirculation devices to their new engines, but the new equipment introduces more soot to the oil. Macks new spec replaces the Mack T8E soot viscosity engine test with a new test, the Mack T-11.

The new spec also sets a more stringent requirement on the ASTM D-6278 test for shear stability. Candidate oils will now have to remain in grade for 90 cycles, instead of 30 cycles as required by EO-N Premium Plus.

Both of these changes represent significant improvements in performance, Shank said. This pushes the standard for heavy-duty engine oils forward.

Shank and others agreed that most existing oils will probably have to be reformulated to meet the new spec. As one of the largest heavy-duty engine manufacturers in the United States, Mack, which is owned by Volvo, produces a significant portion of American tractor trailers.

Technically, its a very difficult specification, said Robert A. Shama, vice president for North America at Ethyl Petroleum Additives Inc. Mack and Volvo are a significant presence in the market, so if you want to sell your oil to a fleet that has their engines, youre going to have to reformulate.

Observers said that other engine makers have expressed similar interest in the tougher requirements contained in Macks new spec. In fact, Shank said the Engine Manufacturers Association – whose membership includes Caterpillar, International Truck, Cummins and Detroit Diesel – agreed during a conference call Monday to petition the American Petroleum Institute to upgrade its CI-4 specification within a year to incorporate the T-11 test and tougher requirement for the ASTM D-6278. Shank said Caterpillar is developing a new test for deposit control which it might seek to include in a CI-4 upgrade.

Shank acknowledged that an upgrade of CI-4 would entail costs and said he could not predict whether API would accede to therequest. He noted that the institute did not act when the association initially requested an upgrade of the previous standard, CH-4.

Shank emphasized that engine manufacturers are not being critical of the institute, but are trying to cope with the accelerated pace of industrywide engineupgrades.

The difficulty is that the process [for upgrading API specs] requires us to come up with [an oil] performance requirement before we know what engine tools were going to be using, he said. The timeline for developing CI-4 was especially short and we were developing engines and hardware right up until the last minute. The OEMs feel that it makes sense to go back and make adjustments to the oil after those tools decisions have been made.

Shank added that he expects engine makers to ask for similar upgrades after adoption the next industrywide standard, PC-10, which is now being drafted.

Not every engine manufacturer is looking to incorporate Macks upgrades. Jerry Wang, a senior technical advisor with Cummins, said that company does not plan any changes to its specification, which mirrors CI-4.

We supported the request to API to support the unity of EMA, Wang said. And we certainly support the right of individual manufacturers to upgrade their own specifications to meet their own needs. But we believe that if the industry is going to invest all the time and resources to develop [an API spec], then it sort of undermines the situation if you start making changes later.

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