Can PC-10 Beat the Clock?


CHICAGO – Pressure is mounting on ASTM to stay on track in developing PC-10, the proposed category for heavy-duty diesel oils that are needed in the commercial marketplace next year. That need, and the nettlesome issues that could derail the effort, were the focus of a special meeting of ASTMs Heavy Duty Engine Oil Classification Panel here last Thursday. Funding issues for PC-10, and the potential obsolescence of API CF-4 diesel engine oils also took the stage.

Weve got more than 40 members in attendance today, about twice as many as usual, noted panel Chairman Jim McGeehan, of ChevronTexaco Global Lubricants, as he called the meeting to order. Thats probably because of the importance of this meeting. Indeed, at least one representative of each of the panels 19 voting member companies was in attendance. Moreover, the mostly unanimous ballots throughout the meeting reflected the large amount of work that had led up to it.

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Valvolines Bill Runkle provided an updated time-line for the panels remaining work, observing that new emission-compliant heavy-duty engines are expected to be in the field beginning in the third quarter of 2006. The classification panel hopes to accept PC-10s engine tests in early fourth-quarter 2005, followed by a six-month period for technology demonstration and approval of test limits, running through first-quarter 2006. By early second-quarter 2006, the American Petroleum Institutes Lubricants Committee must approve the category, in order that API licensing of the new engine oils could commence in December 2006.

Overall, the ASTM panel has made fine progress toward its goal, technically, administratively and financially. Under McGeehans skillful leadership an enormous amount of technical input has been developed by specialists at a large number of companies from all three major stakeholder industries – diesel engine builders, chemical additive companies and oil companies.

Still, as representatives of diesel engine builders, through their trade association, the Engine Manufacturers Association, have made clear time and again, the new oils must be available in mid-2006, without fail. Diesel engine builders are in the late stages of developing new engines with advanced emissions controls to meet greatly tightened EPA emissions requirements due to go into effect in late 2006. These engines will begin to enter commercial service next year. So if the PC-10 specification is not ready on time, EMA has vowed to simply bypass ASTM and go directly to API to get the new oils into service. That blunt message was communicated once again in Chicago, although framed with a patina of jolly good feeling all around.

McGeehan defined the desired outcome for the meeting as being to select engine tests for matrix, that is, to agree to put PC-10s proposed new engine sequence tests through their paces in a series of 14 to 26 test runs each. This will establish test precision for all (and base oil interchange rules in the case of two tests). This matrix process is the major issue in preparing a test to evaluate new candidate engine oil formulations.

In the case of PC-10, four major new engine sequence tests are involved: the Cummins ISB to measure valvetrain wear; the Cummins ISM, measuring valvetrain wear, filter plugging and sludge; the Mack T-12 for ring and liner bearing wear and oil consumption; and the Caterpillar C-13, gauging oil consumption and piston deposits.

All of these, with one exception, appear to be on the way to satisfactory resolution within the necessary timeframe and with widespread industry acceptance. The major hurdle is the new Caterpillar C-13 test.

The C-13 Hurdle
Caterpillar has a distinguished history in sponsoring and developing lubricant engine tests. Since 1937, it has provided industry with at least a dozen engine tests – all ASTM monitored, all specially designed and manufactured for the testing function and, most uniquely, all using only a single cylinder. (With only one exception, all other sequence tests for diesel and gasoline engine oils are based on multi-cylinder production engines.)

For PC-10, nevertheless, Cat sponsored and developed a new engine test, for the first time with multiple cylinders. Its based on a modified C-13 on-highway, six-cylinder, 445 horsepower engine with Cats ACERT emissions control technology. So Cats proposed test moves it toward the mainstream of test engines in that it is a multi-cylinder production engine equipped with the latest emissions control technology.

The C-13 test lasts 500 hours – a few hours short of three weeks – and costs about $125,000 for each run.

All oil company and engine manufacturers on the panel initially had voted to permit the C-13 to proceed to matrix testing to establish both precision and base oil interchange rules, after certain operational data has been posted on the website of ASTMs Test Monitoring Center.

However, representatives of additives companies strongly opposed moving in this direction. As Afton Chemicals Charlie Passut summarized, We do not believe that the test has shown sufficient separation in oil consumption with certain reference oils; that the low-SAPS [Sulfated Ash-Phosphorus-Sulfur] matrix oils will not perform satisfactorily and that the base oil interchange goals of the matrix will not be obtained; and that there is a shortage of test parts which has reduced the testing of low-SAPS candidate oils.

The test development task force stated that they have concerns that the level of discrimination may not be sustainable because pre-matrix discrimination runs indicated that the C-13 is marginally significant as far as oil consumption is concerned, Lubrizols Lew Williams added.

Additive companies sponsor nearly all engine testing of candidate engine oils, and at $125,000 per test run, they foresee large costs, particularly if the C-13 test does not perform as expected. Williams proposed that the panel authorize a total of just seven test runs, after which a data analysis would be conducted prior to authorizing the full test matrix.

Several piston-deposit parameters demonstrated significant discrimination between test oils, responded Caterpillars Abdul Cassim, and he assured the panel that adequate parts would be available for testing, thus removing the objections raised. Significantly, he stated that the oil consumption part of the C-13 test could be eliminated if further testing did not demonstrate significant discrimination between test oils.

The panel voted to authorize seven test runs of the C-13, to undertake a swift data analysis, and then conduct a teleconference or other meeting to consider authorizing the full matrix of 23 to 26 test runs.

Nailing Down Details
The panel also addressedseveral other proposals regarding the test lineup for PC-10:

1. Macks new T-12 engine test is based on the earlier T-10. Its a two-phase test lasting 300 hours. The test procedure has been completed, seven tests on the T-10 reference oil have been completed, [and] data is available from nine PC-10 prototype oils, VolvoMacks Greg Shank told the meeting. T-12 data shows that it is better than the T-10 for precision and discrimination, and engines are running in five laboratories which have been declared ready for T-12 matrix testing.

The T-12 task force recommended that this test is ready for matrix testing, and the panel concurred unanimously. Between 14 and 16 tests will be run, depending on which matrix design is chosen.

2. Cummins new ISM test is proposed to replace the Cummins M11 EGR, which is a requirement of todays API CI-4 and CI-4 PLUS categories. Cummins Consultant David Stehouwer reported that, A formal ISM/M11 EGR correlation methodology was established [using regression analysis]. Data used for the correlation included ISM reference runs on reference oil 830-2 and two candidate test oils were submitted to ASTMs Test Monitoring Center as part of a solicitation for correlation data.

The panel accepted that the ISM is equivalent to the M11 EGR, and moved to a preliminary ballot on the numerical passing limits. The PC-10 limits are to be defined around the performance of the 830-2 reference oil. No matrix testing is required.

3. Stehouwer also reported that the Cummins ISB engine test has shown discrimination at two laboratories. The test procedure has been finalized and all hardware for matrix and beyond will be in place by mid-April, he said. The panel accepted the Cummins ISB, and agreed to a preliminary ballot to establish the tests precision, following confirmation of lab discrimination by the ISB task force.

Time and Money
ExxonMobils Steve Kennedy noted that the overall testing matrix will cost between $4.9 and $5.1 million. Industry-funded tests will total $2.35 million. API and the American Chemistry Council (on behalf of the additive companies) each will contribute $1 million, and EMAs contribution will be $350,000 in cash and $650,000 in other support.

Runs to calibrate the test stands are expected to cost a total $1.9 million to $2.1 million, to be funded by test laboratories. Two independent laboratories (Southwest Research Institute and PerkinElmer) and four in-house labs owned by oil or additive companies are eligible to participate in the matrix. Three base oils and two additive technologies will be included in the matrix.

Kennedy added that the Memorandum of Agreement finalizing the funding is well on the way to acceptance by all industry groups. He noted that a small funding shortfall had arisen, but the matrix labs have agreed to cover the additional cost.

What about CF-4?
Thursdays meeting also heard lively discussion over the issue of whether API Service Category CF-4, introduced in 1990, should be made obsolete. This category is rarely recommended for use now in the United States. Moreover, some tests for CF-4 are no longer available. This highlights the general issue of older API Service Categories and how to continue them without the support of their original tests.

Central to maintaining CF-4 as an active category is the role of the Mack T-9 test, a requirement of the category but no longer available. As Aftons Charlie Passut put it, Referenced tests can no longer be run to license the CF-4 category, data relating to the T-6/T-9 and T-10 are limited, and no new correlation data is expected.

Based on the proposed limits [accepted by the panel] and using the same offset data, the T-10 could be substituted for the T-6, Passut said. The panel proposed a preliminary ballot to accept the T-10 with a new liner-wear limit of 47 microns and a top-ring weight loss of 180 ppm, as a replacement for the T-6 test.

Several attendees pointed out that API CF-4 oils are widely used outside of North America, in India and Africa, for example, and other less-developed parts of the world.

And one panel member noted that continued licensing of CF-4 is important because API needs to keep its licensing fees rolling in to help pay for its $1 million share of the PC-10 matrix cost.

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