motor oils, additives and superlubrifiants

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Oils and additives: a more than delicate wedding!

TETE TECHNOLOGY. Text & photos: Marc Alias

Keywords: additive, grease, superhuiles, lubrication, life, drain, synthetic oils, test, test standards.


Who has not met one day in his readings, his entourage, on a circuit or in a local show or national, a voluble Jean Rakonte, who gives his opinion on everything and especially his opinion?

To clarify the ideas and avoid mechanical breaks sometimes tragic and always expensive, Marc Alias ​​and the site deliver you the whole truth, nothing but the truth about the topic of the motor oils, with the inevitable John Rowland, chief chemist with the Fuchs UK research laboratory, not to mention test their prodigy oil: the Titan GT1 0W20.

Small mechanical reminders

Nowadays, with recent engines, especially turbo diesel, which display up to 57 at only 1700 rpm in order to reliably move the few 2,5 tons of the vehicle, more than ever lubrication must be the object of all your attention. The life of the engine, and perhaps even your driving, depend directly on it.

However, I remind you that the lubricant must separate the parts in relative motion, cool them where the water can not or badly, reduce their friction and wear of course, but also clean them, prevent them from polluting and protect them from solid, liquid pollutants and flue gas corrosion, in particular. For this purpose, the oil must remain sufficiently liquid at -35 ° c to lubricate from the start and sufficiently viscous at 180 ° C not to break the engine running! In short, an ideal behavior not at all natural for an oil!

To remedy this, today the manufacturers draw their base oil which will make 70 85% of the weight of the final product, in two large families:

  • from petroleum refining for mineral oils,
  • or as here, obtained by various chemical processes, it will be a synthetic oil.

Then, and there lies all the knowledge and the final differences of the products, each brand add its famous additives. These are chemical compounds that can be incorporated into lubricants (or fuels!) To improve their basic properties or to create new ones, in short, dopants. It should be noted that they are less necessary with synthesis bases which are otherwise generally free of sulphides and phosphorus which are toxic for catalytic converters. These additives include:

  • anti wear,
  • detergents,
  • anti corrosion,
  • dispersants,
  • antioxidants
  • anti foam,
  • viscosity improvers.

With these, a base oil becomes more fluid cold and more viscous when hot in a temperature range between -35 ° C and 100 ° C or more, this is the principle multigrade oils. To sort out all these oils, standards have emerged.

Multigrade engine oil classifications

All multigrade oils are classified according to the SAE standard by xW y with xW and y respectively corresponding to cold viscosity (test temperature = x-35 ° C) and hot (100 ° C).

Example of an 0W20 oil.

0W (W for Winter) is an oil that meets the test at -35 ° C (such as 5W at -30 ° C, 10W at -25 ° C, 15W at -20 ° C). According to the average cold temperatures of our regions, we already see that modern multigrade oils are largely cold enough.

This figure must be as low as possible (0W therefore) for better pumpability and thus rapid lubrication from the start.

The other figure, 20 for this example, is the viscosity measured at 100 ° C: conventionally, it must be as high as possible to ensure a film of oil between the parts at high temperature and especially not to fall too much beyond of maintain oil pressure.

This last quality, essential, is characterized by VI or viscosity index. The higher it is, the lower the viscosity drops at high temperature. Therefore, select indices above 150 and do not hesitate to ask your dealer for this valuable data via the manufacturer.

Finally mixes side, the result will be closer to the lower product but do not worry too much for possible chemical reactions since all the current oils use bases and similar additives ...

When in doubt, it is best to comply with the manufacturer's recommendations.

Eco class or 1ère?

Semi-synthetic and synthetic oils are made from unconventional bases using sophisticated chemical processes that give them special properties. Engine oils can be derived from 4 bases:

  • mineral,
  • MC (Moleculary Converted) also Hydrocracked base oils with a very high viscosity index obtained by hydroisomerization,
  • polyalphaolefin PAOs,
  • ESTERS of plant or synthetic origin.

Each has its advantages and faults but overall the high viscosity index of the synthetic base oils used (up to 180 at Fuchs) allows the finished lubricant to have a naturally good behavior with respect to the temperature, ie to say to present a viscosity down certainly, but always high regardless of the temperature. This property is a major superiority over mineral oils, made from conventional bases that require the addition of viscosity improving additives in larger amounts.

The stability of the lubricant as a function of temperature guarantees its optimum efficiency both in the cold start phase which is particularly demanding on the engine (80 at 90% of its total wear!) in the most intensive hot running conditions.

Synthesis-based lubricants also have an increased resistance to oxidation, resulting in a longer life of the oil that empties the oil and guarantees a longer service life for the engine. The use of unconventional bases, finally, makes it possible to develop more fluid lubricants, without being more volatile therefore with reduction of the oil consumption.

Note also that a so-called semi-synthetic oil unfortunately does not contain 50% but 20 30%, the rest being a classic mineral base with additives!

Still a typical marketing trap ...

Fuchs Silkolene Company

Originally called Dalton and Co in 1899, this leading British chemical company became known in the 30 and 40 years by lubricating the Spitfires' superb V12 Rolls Royce Merlin and later the famous and late Concorde thanks to its work on synthetic oils. for the US Air Force.

At the beginning of the 1980 years, she was renamed Silkolène. Then, in 1989, the German group Fuchs acquired it without overhauling the initial strategy to take advantage of the technological spin-offs in competition kart, scooter, car and motorcycle with Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki. And this until gp bike on Hyper Bikes ZXRR.

Motorcycle specialist Fuchs Group, Silkolene is one of the world's largest supplier of engine lubricants, gearboxes, chains and suspensions, greases, coolants or brake fluids, as well as various service products. Must have! With such an advance in synthetic oil, Silkolene dominates to the highest level. But to stagnate is to retreat from the competition. Professor John Rowland, who leads the research lab, is well aware of this and he discovers in 2000, Electrosyntec Adhesion Technology. From these innovative principles will flow the Electro Static Adhesion (ESA) which is applied today to several very high-end lubricants like the Pro 2, the Pro 4 and the Pro R Electrosyntec 0W20 derived from the Titan GT1 0W20 self become 5W30 in longlife3 version. Which brings us to the German group Fuchs, he is the first technical partner of the most famous builders of his country!

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In his Silkolene oils lab in Hanley, England, John Rowland, research and development chemist for auto oils since 33 years is the reference in the field. These opinions have values ​​of expertise worldwide knowing that Fuchs does not sell competing additives.


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