Market Topics

Letters to the Editor


Prizing Innovation

Dear LubesnGreases,

LubesnGreases recently published a column suggesting that theres not enough creativity and innovation in the lubricant industry (Changing the Rules, October 2007). This came as a real surprise to the American Chemistry Councils Product Approval Protocol Task Group, since these are in fact highly prized qualities in the research departments of chemical companies. As we read the column, we realize that it betrays some very basic misconceptions about the techni-cal hurdles that must be cleared to successfully develop and adequately test a new lubricant product – and we want to address some of those mis-conceptions directly.

As your readers know, the evaluation process for a new formulation is tech-nically complicated, expensive and time consuming. That process starts with bench tests. If the bench test results are promising, these are fol-lowed by more rigorous and expensive tests. OEMs and oil marketers general-ly want new components to have seen compatibility, dynamometer and real-world field testing before they will con-sider products containing these com-ponents. The potential health, safety and environmental implications of each new formulation have to be reviewed, and in some cases more testing may be needed. So of the many new chemistries and formulating variations evaluated each year, only a few survive this rigorous evaluation process – maybe as few as one or two out of every hundred new chemi-cals or formulating ideas.

Thats the current process. It allows for, encourages and rewards innovation and creation along the way. How do we know this? Because when it comes to innovation, the additive and oil industry track record is impressive. To name just a few of our recent successes, weve developed new chemistries to improve fuel economy, protect emission system function, enable ultra-low viscosity grades, and allow reductions in sulfated ash, sulfur and phosphorus (SAPS). And improvements have been made in lubri-cant performance in the areas of wear, varnish, sludge, oxidation and nitration protection.

We believe LubesnGreases readers all support a product development process that continues to yield higher quality, higher performing lubricants, and that does so more quickly and more efficiently. Thoughtful discus-sion by the entire industry can help us get there.

American Chemistry Council PAPTG

Arlington, Va.

Note to readers: ACCs PAPTG repre-sents additive manufacturers. Members are Afton Chemical, BP Lubricants, Chemtura, Chevron Oronite, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Infineum, Lubrizol and RohMax.

Simmering over Synthetics

Dear LubesnGreases,

The information presented in Steve Swedbergs column in your November issue (Synthetics: Whats in a Name?) ignored industrywide accept-ed facts regarding synthetic motor oils. It was both disappointing and sur-prising that the editorial opinion lacked the facts and references normally expected to substantiate such strong suppositions.

The superiority of synthetic lubricants when compared to mineral oils has been documented extensively over the past 30 years and is widely accepted by industry experts. To claim other-wise runs contrary to millions of hours of scientific testing and in-service field data. The only real discussion point is the strength of the cost/benefit equa-tion for a given application.

Given the increasing cost of new vehicles, maintenance and fuel, as well as the desire of many people to reduce the environmental impact of operating personal vehicles, the bene-fit of using synthetic lubricants clearly outweighs the cost in the majority of applications. SAE International is dedi-cated to advancing mobility engi-neering. Papers published by this organization are carefully reviewed by experts for both content and data on analysis techniques. In the book Synthetics, Mineral Oils and Bio-Based Lubricants, Leslie Rudnick, senior scientist at the Energy Institute at Pennsylvania State University, refer-ences eight superior features of using synthetic engine oil documented in SAE papers. Among these are:

Improved fuel economy: Ten differ-ent test programs involving a total of 182 vehicles showed a weighted aver-age fuel savings of 4.2 percent. Improved oil economy: In ten differ-ent tests on oil consumption… the average improvement was 55.9 per-cent. Excellent cold starting: Engines could be started at -39 F when the crankcase contained a SAE 5W-30 PAO-based synthetic oil… with a mineral oil of the same viscosity grade the lowest starting temperature was -29 F. High-temperature oxidation resistance: Synthetic oil showed a 10 percent increase in viscosity and the mineral oil showed a 135 percent increase, with both samples being SAE 10W-50 oils. Extended oil drain: Conclusion was based on 100,000-mi. tests using parkway police cruis-ers… oil and filter changes were per-formed every 25,000 [miles].

Certainly the list of in-house and industry published tests and informa-tion all pointing to the superior per-formance and cost benefits of prop-erly formulated synthetics is too great to cover here. Consumers will always come out ahead making informed decisions based on facts. It is hoped that the misleading informa-tion presented by Steve Swedberg will not deter motorists from select-ing synthetic lubricants as a means to protect their investments and real-ize the additional cost savings syn-thetics can provide..

Dan Peterson

Amsoil Inc.

Superior, Wis.

I have read a lot of articles con-cerning synthetic motor oils, and Steve Swedbergs November column is perhaps the most concise, easy to read article I have come upon.

Briefly, Steve reduced a lot of infor-mation into a very organized article, including only information that would be useful to individuals who use synthetic motor oils. Perhaps it should be reprinted as a hand-out for the purpose of helping individu-als who are trying to make the deci-sion, Should I go synthetic?

Tell Steve Swedberg to keep up the good work, and I look forward to his next article.

Phil Carter, CLS

Whatley Oil Co.

Columbus, Ga.

As a salesman for a lubricant sup-plier in Massachusetts, I find a lot of my competition sell what they claim is semi-synthetic motor oil. When I ask what constitutes a motor oil to be classified as such, I am told that it can be anywhere from 1 percent to 99 percent syn-thetic. If I ask people in major oil companies if it could be 0.5 percent – that is, one-half of 1 percent – they have to say yes.

Going to the extreme, does that mean I can take a 5,000-gallon hold-ing tank, throw in a couple quarts of Mobil 1, and call it semi-synthetic? If this is the case, the public is being grossly misled. I am sure that sales-people are selling semi-synthetic and it is anything but.

Ken LaBorne

Dennis K. Burke Inc

Needham, Mass.

Fixing Viscosity

Dear LubesnGreases,

For the record, here are a few notes on Steve Swedbergs September and October columns, describing Chris Mays overview of SAE J300 and engine oil viscosity classification:

1) Synthetic pour point depressants were first introduced in 1931.

2) Pumpability limits and test tem-peratures were changed in 1995, prior to the Cold Cranking Simulator (CCS) changes of 1999.

3) Pumpability changes were made even before completion of ASTMs Low Temperature Engine Pumpability work, since it was clear that the then-current J300 was not protecting pumpability in newer engine tech-nologies. (CCS change came after completion of this work.)

Otherwise, I thought the article a fine piece of general education for the audience.

Bernie Kinker

Kintnersville, Pa.

Related Topics

Market Topics