Base Oil Content and Marketing

MolaKule

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Originally Posted By: Shannow
Molakule, you've got my vote, the word "synthetic" implies something that has been lost. I've been razzed by people claiming that it's "performance" that counts, and I agree...but "synthetic" isn't a performance level, it a descriptor of how the stuff was "assembled". I'd prefer that the term was reserved as you describe...but how do you describe performance ?
I would describe performance as in meeting Performance Specifications.
Originally Posted By: Shannow
You could make a "true" synthetic that was woeful in real world if you applied yourself.
It certainly can happen. All you have to do is look at the early Mobil fiasco where they used a majority PAO and didn't include any seal swellers.
 

MolaKule

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Originally Posted By: edhackett
Originally Posted By: MolaKule
When the API moves GTL or hydro-cracked/isomerized oils from the Group III category into the Group IV or V category, AND proves it falls into a strict definition of chemically synthesized base oils, then it is still considered Group III base oil.
GTL starts life as the most basic hydrocarbon, methane. The methane is reacted with water over a catalyst to form CO and H2(no longer hydrocarbons). The CO and H2 is put through the Fischer–Tropsch process to form long chain hydrocarbons. The long chain hydrocarbons are then processed into desirable products. In the case of motor oil, hydro-isomerisation. This doesn't meet the strict definition of synthesis? What do they need to do, fuse hydrogen to make helium, and then fuse the helium into carbon? There's more "strict definition of synthesis" in the GTL process than there is in the other processes to create a synthetic base stocks. They're just changing hydrocarbons into hydrocarbons. I don't buy the classification by VI bit either. Low viscosity(5 cSt) AN base stocks have a VI in the 70's. By that criteria they are Group II. Ten cSt AN has a VI of 105-118, solidly "Group III". Pee upon he API! Ed
Here is a Mineral/Synthetic chart from Infineum that shows the API Groups and they do tend to speak from both sides of their mouths, but the API considers any Group III, of which GTL is placed into that group, a mineral oil. I consider GTL a Group III+ with capabilities very close to PAO. Synthetics I too do not like the API VI classification of a pure base oil, but until the lubrication industry comes to a meeting-of-the-minds regarding definitions of synthesis, synthetic lubricants, highly refined oils, etc., we continue to wrestle with definitions and classifications. I think some things this proposal would do is twofold; 1. force the issue toward defining Full Synthetic, Synthetic-Blend, and Mineral oils, 2. create discussion and debate within the industry toward clear definitions of the various base oil types and what is a synthetic base oil. And this debate/discussion should happen outside the confines of any Marketing Department. LOL
 

dew

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It would be nice to see an explication of how Group III is not a form of synthetic. Is it that severe hydrocracking is not considered chemical synthesis?
 

MolaKule

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Originally Posted By: Nate1979
OEM specs like Dexos, API, etc - you know, the actual performance specs that actually matters.
Agreed and read my reply to SHANNOW post #4109277 and others. But that is not the main topic of this thread.
Originally Posted By: Nate1979
To me your definition is just as "marketing" as any other definition.
No, no marketing involved. Read my reply to edhackett, post #4109300.
Originally Posted By: Nate1979
Now you want to change the definition of Group 3 so that GTL is moved to another group and fit your definition of synthetic?
No, incorrect again. If the industry decides via discussion and debate that Group III does indeed fit the definition of a synthetic lubricant, then GTL would move to group IV (with a redefinition of what constitutes a Group IV) or move to Group V.
Originally Posted By: Nate1979
It sounds like what you actually want is just to know what is in the product.
No. Read my reply to BrocLuno post #4109274
Originally Posted By: Nate1979
If you can make a great oil with group 3 and a horrible oil with group 4 or 5 (and vice versa) why does the label matter?
Read my post #4109277.
Originally Posted By: Nate1979
Group 3 oils are synthesized using base raw material feedstock no different than any other synthetic oil.
If you think they fit the definition, then convince the API.
Quote:
Strict definition of synthetic? I would flunk a HS chemistry student for that answer.
And I would probably flunk you if you were in one of my advanced Chem classes because you have made many incorrect assumptions about what I stated.
Originally Posted By: Nate1979
You just choose to decide that the chemical reactions that make group 3 are not within your definition.
No, I believe synthesis and synthetic chemicals is as defined as below. What we have to do as an industry is to determine what constitutes highly refined oils and what constitutes true synthetic oils.
Quote:
Chemical synthesis is the preparation of a compound, usually an organic compound, from easily available or inexpensive commercial chemicals. Compounds are prepared or synthesized by performing various chemical reactions using an inexpensive starting material and changing its molecular structure, by reactions with other chemicals. The best chemical syntheses are those that use cheap starting materials, require only a few steps, and have a good output of product based on the amounts of starting chemicals. The starting materials for organic synthesis can be simple compounds removed from oil and natural gas or more complex chemicals isolated in large amounts from plant and animal sources. The goal of chemical synthesis is to make a particular product that can be used commercially; for example as a drug, a fragrance, a polymer coating, a food or cloth dye, a herbicide, or some other commercial or industrial use. Compounds are also synthesized to test a chemical theory, to make a new or better chemical, or to confirm the structure of a material isolated from a natural source. Chemical synthesis can also be used to supplement the supply of a drug that is commonly isolated in small amounts from natural sources.
 
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MolaKule

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Originally Posted By: dew
It would be nice to see an explication of how Group III is not a form of synthetic. Is it that severe hydrocracking is not considered chemical synthesis?
I think you have hit upon one of the reasons why. Hydrocracking is a catalytic chemical process used in petroleum refineries for converting the high-boiling constituent hydrocarbons in petroleum crude oils to more valuable lower-boiling products, and involves pumping hydrogen at about 150 bar (~ = 2200 psi) into one of the processing units. That is, it is considered a "refining process" rather than a true synthesis process.
 

dew

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Originally Posted By: MolaKule
Originally Posted By: dew
It would be nice to see an explication of how Group III is not a form of synthetic. Is it that severe hydrocracking is not considered chemical synthesis?
I think you have hit upon one of the reasons why. Hydrocracking is a catalytic chemical process used in petroleum refineries for converting the high-boiling constituent hydrocarbons in petroleum crude oils to more valuable lower-boiling products, and involves pumping hydrogen at about 150 bar (~ = 2200 psi) into one of the processing units. That is, it is considered a "refining process" rather than a true synthesis process.
Thanks. Then it seems the general public needs something to differentiate quality for a particular purpose. For example Group IIIs genreally perform better than II's, most likely reaching the point of diminishing returns for the average consumer, e.g. longer drains, etc. There should certainly be a good term to describe that without the need for inaccurate claims.
 
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Originally Posted By: MolaKule
That is, it is considered a "refining process" rather than a true synthesis process.
I disagree with that definition. In refining you are simply separating the different oil components. In hydrocracking you are changing their chemical composition.
Originally Posted By: dew
Is it that severe hydrocracking is not considered chemical synthesis?
It absolutely is a chemical process. With synthesis you are usually building up. With hydrocracking you are breaking down. I don't know what the individual chemical components of Group III vs. Group IV are, however you could be arriving at the same molecules using either process. Hydrocracking is also a specific term for a chemical process used in the petroleum industry. Synthesis is a general chemistry term. You could be synthesizing drugs for example. I think you could call hydrocracking a type of synthesis. Synthesis is a broad term in chemistry.
 
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Originally Posted By: Nate1979
If you can make a great oil with group 3 and a horrible oil with group 4 or 5 (and vice versa) why does the label matter?
I understand your point, but there is a valid reason behind that. For one, group number and the use of the term "synthetic" should be determined by chemists, not marketers. As for a great Group III versus a horrible Group IV, that's why specifications do matter, and are another issue altogether. One does have to at least have some idea of what one needs out of an oil, and the definition of "synthetic," be it decided by marketers or chemists, is not good enough to make an oil choice. That's why we have specifications and SAE J300.
 
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While I agree with Mola's concept, it ain't going to happen. In order for an industry to self police the players have to want self policing. Oil companies have no incentive to reveal their base oils or set strict definitions that restrict their marketing. In the past the SAE did have a strict definition of "Synthetic" which required the base oils be chemical compounds produced by chemical synthesis and manufactured by organic reactions from relatively pure organic starting materials. They dropped that definition in 1996 under pressure from the new Group III producers. The industry does not want to get involved in defining such marketing terms, only in oil performance defined by standard and well controlled tests. Other organizations attempted to set such synthetic definitions but dropped the efforts due to lack of industry support. Fact is the word Synthetic is now just a marketing term like so many others on the label with no definition, test confirmation, or policing. At best it is the manufacturer's statement of "my best oil, trust me". I don't see this changing. Tom NJ
 
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The performance specs, the approuvals characterise the virgin oil. That's why I need and search infos on the base oil type and additives, to see how long these performances will last.
 
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Originally Posted By: camrydriver111
Originally Posted By: MolaKule
That is, it is considered a "refining process" rather than a true synthesis process.
I disagree with that definition. In refining you are simply separating the different oil components. In hydrocracking you are changing their chemical composition.
Originally Posted By: dew
Is it that severe hydrocracking is not considered chemical synthesis?
It absolutely is a chemical process. With synthesis you are usually building up. With hydrocracking you are breaking down. I don't know what the individual chemical components of Group III vs. Group IV are, however you could be arriving at the same molecules using either process. Hydrocracking is also a specific term for a chemical process used in the petroleum industry. Synthesis is a general chemistry term. You could be synthesizing drugs for example. I think you could call hydrocracking a type of synthesis. Synthesis is a broad term in chemistry.
Exactly right. It is a chemical reaction. It is not a purely physical separation process. Choosing when one chemical reaction is not a pure synthesis process vs another is just another way to "market" the idea that one base oil is more synthetic than another.
 

SR5

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Originally Posted By: MolaKule
Originally Posted By: SR5
OK, but just so I'm sure, how would the MK rules label two full synthetics that are in my garage right now? - GTL Shell Helix Ultra 5W-40 ( MB229.5, BMW LL-01, Porsche A40, etc) - Castrol Edge 5W-30 A3/B5, I believe it's Group III only but still meets MB229.5, BMW LL-01, Etc.
Boy, is that a loaded question. LOL Under the MK definitions, I would place them under the Synthetic Blend definition.
Then I must have missed something in the MK rules.
Quote:
BLEND - Any combination thereof of Group II or Group III or Group IV or Group V base oils with a minimum 10% content of Group IV and or Group V base oils (as defined above), with an appropriate additive package.
Neither contain (to my knowledge) any Group IV or V and so therefor wouldn't they be a Conventional oil ?
 
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SR5; Maybe the group V in the additive package tripped the breaker. Edit: It appears that this thread has gone full circle, back to certified performance and what people are willing to pay for their belief in magic.
 
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jaj

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Following on from the last two posts, it's not actually the "magic" that matters - it's the "belief". Oil performs a critical function in what is often the second-most expensive asset that people will ever own. Oil marketers have to convince people (who have no ability to make objective observations of performance) that their product is "better" than others. The marketing approach breaks down into two distinct approaches - "our product is better made than theirs" is the first one and "our product performs better than theirs" is the second. The specialty blenders are all about "better made" and the major oil companies are all about "better performance". The marketing term "synthetic" actually worked as a differentiator, so it was stolen from the "better made" marketers and morphed into a completely different concept by the "better performance" marketers. Today, it means a product that performs "better" (in some sense - let's not go down that rabbit hole) and not a product made with a particular set of ingredients. This leads to some frustration, of course, but from a purely objective standpoint, the $2-a-quart "conventional" oil I use in my SUV performs on par with the $10-a-quart "synthetic" oil I use in my Shelby.
 

MolaKule

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Originally Posted By: Tom NJ
While I agree with Mola's concept, it ain't going to happen. In order for an industry to self police the players have to want self policing. Oil companies have no incentive to reveal their base oils or set strict definitions that restrict their marketing. In the past the SAE did have a strict definition of "Synthetic" which required the base oils be chemical compounds produced by chemical synthesis and manufactured by organic reactions from relatively pure organic starting materials. They dropped that definition in 1996 under pressure from the new Group III producers. The industry does not want to get involved in defining such marketing terms, only in oil performance defined by standard and well controlled tests. Other organizations attempted to set such synthetic definitions but dropped the efforts due to lack of industry support. Fact is the word Synthetic is now just a marketing term like so many others on the label with no definition, test confirmation, or policing. At best it is the manufacturer's statement of "my best oil, trust me". I don't see this changing. Tom NJ
thumbsup True, pushback from the Marketing departments of Oil companies will attempt to kill any further classification or Self-Policing. As I stated in one of the above posts, if the oil companies don't self police themselves, then there could come a time when one or more Bureaucrats and government agencies, who have no technical expertise in the matter, will enact or attempt to act regulations similar to Germany's current laws. One has only to look at the BBB decision. While not a legal court case, the point is non-technical people can make a bad technical decision, IMHO. smile Unfortunately, Marketing seems to trump common sense. As a side note, PQIA has been doing its best to sound the alarm on "trash" oils. It has only been recently that some states Consumer Protection Agencies have become involved.
 
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Yeah, I really appreciate what pqia has been doing. I'd like for oils like the dollar general brand that doesn't meet current standards to not be located on the same shelf as pcmos that do. It's intentionally trying to dupe a uninformed customer into buying a substandard product with a low price.
 
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Originally Posted By: Shannow
Molakule, you've got my vote, the word "synthetic" implies something that has been lost. I've been razzed by people claiming that it's "performance" that counts, and I agree...but "synthetic" isn't a performance level, it a descriptor of how the stuff was "assembled". I'd prefer that the term was reserved as you describe...but how do you describe performance ? You could make a "true" synthetic that was woeful in real world if you applied yourself.
I agree.
 
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Originally Posted By: Tom NJ
While I agree with Mola's concept, it ain't going to happen. In order for an industry to self police the players have to want self policing. Oil companies have no incentive to reveal their base oils or set strict definitions that restrict their marketing. In the past the SAE did have a strict definition of "Synthetic" which required the base oils be chemical compounds produced by chemical synthesis and manufactured by organic reactions from relatively pure organic starting materials. They dropped that definition in 1996 under pressure from the new Group III producers. The industry does not want to get involved in defining such marketing terms, only in oil performance defined by standard and well controlled tests. Other organizations attempted to set such synthetic definitions but dropped the efforts due to lack of industry support. Fact is the word Synthetic is now just a marketing term like so many others on the label with no definition, test confirmation, or policing. At best it is the manufacturer's statement of "my best oil, trust me". I don't see this changing. Tom NJ
Good points.
 
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