Page 3operating conditions in some types of equipment has spurred a movement toward premium-grade industrial oils thatuse advanced base oils as their foundation.The major drivers for change in each of these two product categories will be discussed below, with emphasis on thebase oil changes that they have spurred in North America. This is followed by some speculation on what trends maybe seen in the future.
Passenger Car Motor OilBy far the most prevalent of the transportation lubricants are motor oils, generally split into passenger car motor oils(PCMO) and heavy duty motor oils (HDMO). In each arena, environmental pressure placed on enginemanufacturers, in one form or another, is the key factor forcing these OEMs to create new engine oil categories thatrequire higher performance. Along with this pressure is increasing customer demand for reducing operating costsand/or maintenance time.In the case of PCMO, the environmental pressure takes two key forms, which also fall in alignment with customer-based drivers. These are:
Improved Fuel Economy
: Manufacturers who sell vehicles in the U.S. are required to meet specific CorporateAverage Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, or face severe fines. With the proliferation of larger vehicles,particularly Sport/Utility Vehicles (SUVs), fleet average fuel economy has actually declined in recent yearssuch that it is now very difficult for some manufacturers to meet CAFE standards . Though most consumersin North America, particularly those who are propagating the trend to larger vehicles, care little about fueleconomy, OEMs are anxious to gain improvements through any available technical means.Through proper formulation, PCMO can yield a modest benefit in fuel economy relative to today’s typical oils.Moreover, due to the need to demonstrate to regulators that engine oil-derived fuel economy benefits don’tdisappear shortly after the oil goes into the engine, the need has arisen to develop engine oils with fuel economy
. In addition to improved additive technology, these requirements demand better base oils.Specifically, the base oil must have lower volatility than current oils to help resist evaporative-inducedthickening, and it must be more stable to resist oxidation, which also causes viscosity increase, and additivedepletion, which can reduce the effectiveness of friction modifiers. Moreover, all of these changes must takeplace simultaneously with a shift toward lower viscosity grades; SAE 5W-30 is now the recommended oil formost 2000 model year cars, with 5W-20 proposed for the very near future.
Cleanliness of Engine and Emissions Controls
: - With ever more stringent limits on vehicle tailpipe emissions,vehicle manufacturers are requiring increasingly cleaner engines and systems that affect emissions performance.This requires lower oil consumption to protect catalysts and oxygen sensors, as well as to minimize directemissions from combustion of engine oil. Also required are cleaner internal engine components, particularlythe pistons and rings, which have a significant impact on cylinder sealing and thus control of blowby gases andoil consumption. Again, base oil quality plays an important role. Engine oil volatility has been shown to have asignificant impact on oil consumption, and this volatility is determined almost entirely by the base oil. Thus,lower oil consumption demands lower volatility base oils. Lower engine deposits, though most stronglyaffected by additive formulation, also can be reduced by using more stable base stocks, which resist oxidationand therefore the formation of deposit precursors.
On the consumer side
, most drivers are happy to reduce the amount of maintenance that must be performed ontheir cars. With current tune-up and major service intervals now as great as 160,000 km, engine oil is the mostfrequent maintenance item on most modern cars. Also, many people now lease vehicles instead of buying them,and many of these lessees have little interest in opening their hoods between required service points, much lesschecking their oil and topping it off if indicated. In addition the same lubricant must suffice for both summerand winter use. Thus, an engine oil with greater life, lower oil consumption, and stable low and hightemperature viscometrics is desired, again reflecting the need for base oils of lower volatility and betterresistance to oxidation.