ROBO Is Ready to Roll

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ASTM International has published RohMaxs ROBO, a bench test designed to replace the more expensive Sequence IIIGA engine test in the new ILSAC GF-5 engine oil performance standard.

The IIIGA test detects oil thickening at cold temperatures where it is more noticeable. The ROBO (Romaszewski Oil Bench Oxidation Test) bench test aims to produce comparable oil aging characteristics to those obtained with Sequence IIIGA matrix reference oils.

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Bernard Kinker, a consultant, is a former RohMax employee who co-developed the test at RohMaxs U.S. Technology Center in Horsham, Pa., along with Raymond Romaszewski, whom the test is named after, and Pam Palmer. ROBO test development started in 2003, and an ASTM task force for ROBO was created in 2006.

The ROBO test currently appears in the ILSAC draft of GF-5, Kinker noted, and the ILSAC/OIL Committee continues to discuss how to implement it. There is debate about do you use only ROBO, or can you use IIIGA or ROBO, Kinker told Lube Report. Thats an item thats not yet put to bed, if you will.

GF-5 tests and test limits are expected to be finalized late this year, at which time ILSAC/OIL would formally vote on approval of the GF-5 specification. The first API license is expected in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Kinker noted the ROBO test saves substantially in both time and operating costs, compared to Sequence IIIGA.

IIIGA is a 100 hour test, while ROBO is a 40 hour test, he said. IIIGA would cost you on order of $40,000, probably a little more nowadays. ROBO is priced at $1,250 or $1,500 depending on where you went to obtain the testing.

The ROBO test requires fairly complex lab equipment, Kinker stated, including an oxidation reactor. Its not a unit you can simply go out and buy just yet, he said. A number of labs are set up to run it, including the independent labs down in San Antonio, Texas.

He explained that the bench test involves running a chemical reaction, just as in an automotive engine. In an engine, youre pumping in oxygen, catalyst, blow-by gases, so ROBO is a reactor vessel that is set up to duplicate that chemistry as best as you can, Kinker continued. In addition to duplicating the chemistry that goes on in the engine, it also intends to duplicate the volatility of an oil in an engine. For instance, IIIGA will take off approximately half of the oil charge in volatiles. ROBOs parameters are set up to do something quite similar.

To vet the data, three ASTM Sequence IIIG matrix oils were used to set up ROBO conditions and correlate ROBO to the Sequence IIIGA engine procedure. Kinker said that American Chemistry Council member colleagues along with RohMax itself chipped in a total of 35 additional oils as well.

Then we put all those in the ROBO test, got the answers, and compared them to the IIIGA engine results, he recalled. That was a total of 38 oils with known results. You can conclude reasonably well that ROBO duplicated the IIIGA results to a fair degree.

Darmstadt, Germany-based RohMax Oil Additives is a subsidiary of Essen, Germany-based Evonik Industries AG.

The published ROBO test, New Standard Test Method for Bench Oxidation of Engine Oils by ROBO Apparatus – D7528-09, is available for $43 at ASTMs web site at http://www.astm.org/Standards/D7528.htm?A