Maybe "synthetic" isn't a good term...

mark pruett

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What people say on here is only opinion because nowhere is the term actually defined by any standards entity. Only in Germany is it defined for marketing purposes. And despite the great worrying people ascribe to the NAD decision here in the US it was based on a proper technical analysis.

And again you persist in misunderstanding the purpose of API Annex E. GTL is Group III because it meets the criteria for interchange, again as defined in the document itself. Like you, people on here nearly always misuse the document in clear violation of the stated purpose which is spelled out in the Annex. Have you read it? It's not to define which base stocks are synthetic and which are not, and likewise it is not "absurd" at all. What's absurd is people making long prognostications on here about the document when they fundamentally misunderstand its purpose.

Specifications, licenses and approvals rule because they directly represent the performance of the finished product and this avoids the flapping around associated with goofy threads about the definition of base stock origin.
I think we're talking past each other.... What I'm saying is that it should be considered synthetic, because you know, it's the product of synthesis. And it performs like the other oils labeled as "synthetic".

But some other people have this erroneous idea that ONLY Group IV/V are "synthetic" and everything else is substandard, including GTL oil and stuff like Helix Ultra. Which is wrong- those are fantastic oils that are the equal of any other high performance oil and meet some of the toughest specs in the industry.

That's why I'm saying that the whole concept of "synthetic" oils as a category that means anything other than the literal way their basestocks were created is useless.

I even saw you quiz someone in a thread about some 0w-40 Mobil 1 oil in a different thread from 2018 where they said that the old one was good when it was PAO, but they changed it to Group III, and they're looking for a new oil as a result, because they perceived it to have become inferior. And in effect, you said "What's wrong with the new one?"

Which is exactly what I'm getting at- I would have said the same thing for the same reasons.
 
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In reality, the basestock is only ONE component of many that determine how an oil performs, and worrying about its provenance is missing the forest for the trees. Worrying about "true synthetics" is ridiculous- the term is functionally meaningless with respect to what we discuss around here, and yet we see a lot of nonsense about it far too often.
Very well said. I agree 100%.
 
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Very well said. I agree 100%.
M1R 4T superbike oil used to be stunning, then, suddenly it was terrible after a reform.
That tees off people. Like me. I enjoy a good product, and when they disappear from the marketplace I get frustrated,

There IS a tangible performance loss in moving from a good synthetic formulation to a "faux synthetic" formulation.
 
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Amsoil and Redline and others made their reputation when the mainstream engine oils were GP1 oils . Showing a sludged up engine because the oil wasn't changed in a timely manor is great marketing.. At the time 'Boutique" oils were the only game for the mass consumers.. Then M1 came on the market.
 

MolaKule

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Probably not, but I just get frustrated when I read the same silly old threads every so often about "REAL synthetic oils", with some doofus wanting to know what oils are "REAL" synthetics, versus all this fraudulent other stuff merely labeled as "synthetic", as if these days being a Group IV/V makes an oil somehow better than those other ones made from other stuff, like GTL or whatever. Or people opining that some oil "used to be good", but now that the manufacturer replaced the Group IV with Group III+, it's now suddenly inferior...
I suggest that when this topic surfaces you either ignore it or inject some accurate, verifiable tribology information to help clarify the issue.
 
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Amsoil and Redline and others made their reputation when the mainstream engine oils were GP1 oils . Showing a sludged up engine because the oil wasn't changed in a timely manor is great marketing.. At the time 'Boutique" oils were the only game for the mass consumers.. Then M1 came on the market.
Mobil 1 has been around since 1974, but I don't know how readily available it was. I know my dad experimented with it in our vehicles in the late 1970s and it was $5/quart then, which was a lot of money.
 

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Amsoil and Redline and others made their reputation when the mainstream engine oils were GP1 oils . Showing a sludged up engine because the oil wasn't changed in a timely manor is great marketing.. At the time 'Boutique" oils were the only game for the mass consumers.. Then M1 came on the market.
Mobil 1 has been around a lot longer than Redline and basically just as long as AMSOIL.
 
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Mobil 1 has been around since 1974, but I don't know how readily available it was. I know my dad experimented with it in our vehicles in the late 1970s and it was $5/quart then, which was a lot of money.
Yeah that was a *lot* of money for oil, at the time. I remember back in the late 80s / early 90s, the "top shelf" PYB and Valvoline conventional oils were $1.79 per quart. (I don't think 5-quart jugs had appeared yet for most brands.) A buddy recommended Kendall which was $3.99 at the time and I said that he is crazy. I was young and broke.
 
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Uh oh, I'm out of popcorn. Oh wait, here are some potato chips... Carry on. :LOL:
Was watching an old gameshow on Buzzer and a contestant (about 30 years old) won a lifetime supply of popcorn. A prize worth $5100. Thought that $5100 in in 1984 dollars would buy several lifetimes' worth of popcorn. Guess popcorn is more expensive than I thought.
 
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Seems to me if you take a mineral oil and break it apart into short hydrocarbon chains then reform those chains into your desired target molecules then you have synthesized something.

It's not the route to how you get to your target chemistry that is important, it's the output.
I think synthetic can be defined by molecules that have been specifically designed and processed or "synthesized" to have desirable properties and minimal undesirable ones.
 
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Just to add on the API group numbers:

Group IV is defined as "PAO". That's it. So if a base stock isn't PAO, regardless of its origin it isn't in Group IV.
Group V is "anything not in groups I through IV". So it is a mix of synthetic and mineral oils, plus plant oils, silicones, ethers, naphthenics etc.

GTL is Group III because it meets the definition of Group III - that being a hydrocracked base oil with sulfur, saturates and VI limits. Whether the starting point was natural gas or crude oil, the end point is (within boundaries) the same. Different molecules come out than went it.
 

mark pruett

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Just to add on the API group numbers:

Group IV is defined as "PAO". That's it. So if a base stock isn't PAO, regardless of its origin it isn't in Group IV.
Group V is "anything not in groups I through IV". So it is a mix of synthetic and mineral oils, plus plant oils, silicones, ethers, naphthenics etc.

GTL is Group III because it meets the definition of Group III - that being a hydrocracked base oil with sulfur, saturates and VI limits. Whether the starting point was natural gas or crude oil, the end point is (within boundaries) the same. Different molecules come out than went it.
Which is all well and good, but for someone to claim it's not "synthetic" because it's not Group IV or V is completely and absolutely absurd, and that's what I'm getting at.

If you take natural gas (or synthesis gas from coal, FWIW) and you run it through the F-T process and come out with something resembling petroleum products, that you then hydrocrack/hydrofinish to produce a lubricant oil base stock, that's about as synthetic as things come. It's certainly no less synthetic than doing something similar in concept with ethylene gas into NAO, then PAO.

And they perform about the same as well. Which is my other point- who cares if it's a Group III, IV or V, if the oil performs? "Synthetic" the chemistry term is only useful as a rule-of-thumb, and "Synthetic" as a marketing term is only marginally better; there's not much if any regulation on what can be called "synthetic"; it tends to indicate a standard/premium, or maybe normal/high performance divide in products.
 

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Which is all well and good, but for someone to claim it's not "synthetic" because it's not Group IV or V is completely and absolutely absurd, and that's what I'm getting at.

If you take natural gas (or synthesis gas from coal, FWIW) and you run it through the F-T process and come out with something resembling petroleum products, that you then hydrocrack/hydrofinish to produce a lubricant oil base stock, that's about as synthetic as things come. It's certainly no less synthetic than doing something similar in concept with ethylene gas into NAO, then PAO.

And they perform about the same as well. Which is my other point- who cares if it's a Group III, IV or V, if the oil performs? "Synthetic" the chemistry term is only useful as a rule-of-thumb, and "Synthetic" as a marketing term is only marginally better; there's not much if any regulation on what can be called "synthetic"; it tends to indicate a standard/premium, or maybe normal/high performance divide in products.
Yes, PAO and GTL perform quite similarly except for at extremely cold temperatures because PAO lacks any wax, whilst GTL still has some, so it requires PPD's.

One of the big things is that the range of PAO base oil viscosities is massively broader than the GTL slate, so you have a lot more flexibility in blending options than you do with GTL. Of course GTL bases are less expensive.
 
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Which is all well and good, but for someone to claim it's not "synthetic" because it's not Group IV or V is completely and absolutely absurd, and that's what I'm getting at.

If you take natural gas (or synthesis gas from coal, FWIW) and you run it through the F-T process and come out with something resembling petroleum products, that you then hydrocrack/hydrofinish to produce a lubricant oil base stock, that's about as synthetic as things come. It's certainly no less synthetic than doing something similar in concept with ethylene gas into NAO, then PAO.

And they perform about the same as well. Which is my other point- who cares if it's a Group III, IV or V, if the oil performs? "Synthetic" the chemistry term is only useful as a rule-of-thumb, and "Synthetic" as a marketing term is only marginally better; there's not much if any regulation on what can be called "synthetic"; it tends to indicate a standard/premium, or maybe normal/high performance divide in products.

Which is all well and good, but for someone to claim it's not "synthetic" because it's not Group IV or V is completely and absolutely absurd, and that's what I'm getting at.

If you take natural gas (or synthesis gas from coal, FWIW) and you run it through the F-T process and come out with something resembling petroleum products, that you then hydrocrack/hydrofinish to produce a lubricant oil base stock, that's about as synthetic as things come. It's certainly no less synthetic than doing something similar in concept with ethylene gas into NAO, then PAO.

And they perform about the same as well. Which is my other point- who cares if it's a Group III, IV or V, if the oil performs? "Synthetic" the chemistry term is only useful as a rule-of-thumb, and "Synthetic" as a marketing term is only marginally better; there's not much if any regulation on what can be called "synthetic"; it tends to indicate a standard/premium, or maybe normal/high performance divide in products.

This is an informative thread for me. Not smart enough to understand the technical deliniasations of what makes synthetic, synthetic.

But it seems all that matters is if the finished product performs as well as a Group IV or V, then it is by default synthetic.
 
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Which is all well and good, but for someone to claim it's not "synthetic" because it's not Group IV or V is completely and absolutely absurd, and that's what I'm getting at.

If you take natural gas (or synthesis gas from coal, FWIW) and you run it through the F-T process and come out with something resembling petroleum products, that you then hydrocrack/hydrofinish to produce a lubricant oil base stock, that's about as synthetic as things come. It's certainly no less synthetic than doing something similar in concept with ethylene gas into NAO, then PAO.

And they perform about the same as well. Which is my other point- who cares if it's a Group III, IV or V, if the oil performs? "Synthetic" the chemistry term is only useful as a rule-of-thumb, and "Synthetic" as a marketing term is only marginally better; there's not much if any regulation on what can be called "synthetic"; it tends to indicate a standard/premium, or maybe normal/high performance divide in products.
Totally agree - we're on the same side of this one I think!

But it seems all that matters is if the finished product performs as well as a Group IV or V, then it is by default synthetic.
That's not what is being said. In fact all that matters is whether an oil meets the minimum requirements of your vehicle's needs. It doesn't matter what it is made of or what it is described as. And to labour the point a bit more, "group V" is not a synthetic group. You can't "perform as well as Group V" because group V base oils are so diverse. Many peopl here and elsewhere use the term "group V" as a proxy for "ester" but this isn't true. Ester is a group V, but not all group V is ester. For example any mineral oil that fails to reach the requirements of group I is a group V.
 
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The API oil "Groups" were developed in 1993 to define certain levels of quality in commonly used lubricant base stocks, mainly for base stock interchangeability purposes. This had nothing to do with the term "synthetic".

At that time the lubricants industry defined the term synthetic based on a chemical process. The SAE actually had a formal definition in their Handbook, defining synthetic base stocks as chemical compounds produced by chemical synthesis and manufactured by organic reactions from relatively pure organic starting materials. That definition disappeared in the 1997 edition.

In 1999 the BBB's NAD, in a non-binding non-legal decision related to advertising standards, decided that Castrol's Syntec could continue to use the term synthetic for its Group III product based largely on its performance rather than a chemical process. That decision pertained only to a specific Group III+ base stock being used by Castrol at the time, however, marketers misinterpreted that decision and expanded the ruling to all Group IIIs knowing that no one would challenge it. The only difference between a Group II (mineral) and a Group III (synthetic) base stock is one VI point, a meaningless distinction.

Today about the only conclusion you can draw from a synthetic label is that the oil most likely has a more stable base oil blend than one not labeled synthetic, assuming the marketer is ethical. A more stable base oil is only part of an oil's performance characteristics as the additives dominate in many performance attributes. If you really want to define an oil's performance, look to the industry and OEM approvals it has. These take into account both the base oil and the additives, and at least they are defined and regulated. The term "synthetic" is not.
 
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Which is all well and good, but for someone to claim it's not "synthetic" because it's not Group IV or V is completely and absolutely absurd, and that's what I'm getting at.
If you take natural gas (or synthesis gas from coal, FWIW) and you run it through the F-T process and come out with something resembling petroleum products, that you then hydrocrack/hydrofinish to produce a lubricant oil base stock, that's about as synthetic as things come. It's certainly no less synthetic than doing something similar in concept with ethylene gas into NAO, then PAO.

If you continue posting that way it's a matter of time when someone's asking if your name is appearing on Shell's payroll. You started this discussion with kind of a rant. There's just no value in that, and it's certainly not a good starting point for a technical or even scientific discussion. That said, the question has been discussed a thousand times on Bitog and I don't expect a new argument to appear. You didn't name a single new one anyway.


they perform about the same as well.

That simply isn't just right. There's a clear difference in low-temp performance between group 3 and 4, whether it matters to you or not. There's also a difference in high-temp performance between group 3 and in particular POE/group 5. That's why PAO and POE will continue to exist despite being more expensive - they simply do provide performance advantages.
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