Continued from page 17

Today, the market is ratcheting down to 0W-20 formulations. Globally, the handful of formulation profiles range from Group III with 15% correction fluid to 100% Group III+/PAO. But, the move to low viscosity lubricants is pushing the performance limits of existing Base Oil technology.

Polyalphaolefin, the gold standard in correction fluid, has always challenged blenders due to its high cost and inconsistent supply availability. Now, PAO may have reached its performance limits. With automotive engine oil (AEO) specs moving to 0W-16/12/8 performance, – its volatility isn’t low enough for fuel economy retention.

Additionally, it is not from sustainable feeds and it is not biodegradable.

AEO specs moving to 0W-16/12/8 in conjunction with decarbonisation is opening the door for new Base Oil technologies.

Graph illustrates projected emissions in Metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2

e) over a 50 year period.

In Europe the three most carbon intense segments, Transport, Industry and Power - all have a critical base oil component.

The transition to bio/sustainable Base Oils will be gradual Historically, and into the future, the adoption rate of new Base Oil technology is driven by OEM fuel economy and exhaust emission requirements, in conjunction with supply availability and formulating costs.

The introduction of ISODEWAXING® technology in

the mid-90s enabled production of large volumes of affordable Group II and Group III Base Oils, which had high purity and lower cold crank and volatility characteristics. It dramatically changed the market, but it took 15 years for the full effect to be felt. Supply availability, engine design, specifications and performance testing all had to be developed.

Initially, Group II/III Base Oils were used as a correction fluid. As fuel economy and low SAPS specs tightened, demand for lower viscosity motor oils grew. Group III Base Oils became the predominant Base Oil in 5W-30 formulations.


Market needs solutions that are both evolutionary and revolutionary Meeting dual market demands for low viscosity and low carbon impact will require revolutionary Base Oils. Ideally, they will be produced from sustainable resources. Critically, they will have to have exceptionally low viscosity and volatility and deliver true hydrocarbon functionality that surpasses PAO or mineral oils. The next generation of Base Oils must enable better fuel economy goals for OEMs.

The greatest potential will come from bespoke molecules that produce perfect product consistency.

Next generation of Base Oils will not likely come from crudes, coal or natural gas Sufficiently low cold crank and volatility for future 0W-16 lubricants can’t be achieved with current Base Oil technology. While, theoretically, regular crudes could be severely cracked to achieve viscosity index targets, the yields plummet to uneconomical levels. Additionally, supply availability of waxy crude, the required feedstock, has historically been limited, hard to transport and is now drying up.

Gas-to-Liquid Base Oils, designed to fill the performance gap, are energy intensive and have a carbon footprint that is worse than mineral oils. Coal-to-Liquid Base Oils have similar drawbacks, and are unlikely to be an option without substantial government subsidies.

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