In the continued drive toward lower emissions and more fuel-efficient powertrains, the precise formulation of advanced engine lubricants has never been more critical.
Greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions are being achieved through changes to almost every facet of a vehicle’s design. In the latest powertrain systems, it is commonplace to see advanced electrified designs that combine modern internal combustion engine hardware – gasoline and diesel – with state-of-the art aftertreatment systems to manage emissions.
Improvements are also being enabled by significantly more sophisticated engine lubricants which are a vital design element in the development of future hardware. Today, the very highest-performance lubricants are a precise and complex formulation of additive, performance polymer, pour point depressant and quality base oil, tailored to the specific requirements of the hardware design team.
In order to optimize efficiency gains, it is critical that the engine hardware works in harmony with the approved engine lubricant. It is equally critical to remember that the engine lubricant can only perform as intended when each of its many and sophisticated parts are correctly formulated and subsequently manufactured to the specified component ratios.
Engine and field testing has demonstrated that even subtle changes to an approved lubricant formulation can have catastrophic implications on the efficiency and protection of the engine during its life. At the same time, any part change can invalidate the formal approval of the finished lubricant.
Hardware design changes are typically resulting in engine lubricants needing to operate in hotter and more severe operating environments, as well as having to perform for longer between service intervals. To ensure efficiency improvements are realized and protection is not compromised, approved engine lubricants must meet rigorous OEM performance demands. Such requirements apply to industry baseline approvals (including ACEA and API) as well as more stringent OEM factory-fill, genuine oil and service-fill engine lubricant specifications.
It is critically important that lubricants conform to an approved specification. As such, institutions like the Verification of Lubricant Specifications (VLS) in the UK and the Petroleum Quality Institute of America (PQIA) in the USA undertake sampling of lubricants to ensure they are in line with claimed specific technical specifications. Marketers of lubricants that do not meet an approved technical specification can damage their brand and company reputation, as well as face potential warranty claims from OEMs if the lubricants are used in modern engines.
High-performance lubricants continue to be an integral part of today’s engine and aftertreatment system designs, enabling hardware improvements including the use of newer and lighter materials.
At the same time, precisely formulated performance lubricants are delivering improvements in efficiency through the use of novel formulating componentry, lower viscosity grades as well as lower high temperature high shear (HTHS) viscosity.
It is vital for an oil marketer to market approved lubricants that are future-proofed, differentiated and technically advanced that deliver significant value today and for the years to come.