Mobil Jet Oil 387

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Was wandering around eia.gov when I saw a ref to the below. If it's come up previously I do not recall it. Apparently Exxonmobil is building a dedicated facility at Port Allan (tx?) To make nothing but this new product. Ground was broken in 2013 and they still seem to be getting widespread certs for its use. (url)Http://lubes.exxonmobil.com/aviation/productsandservices_jet-oils_mobil-jet-oil-387.aspx(/url)
 
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MJ 387 is ExxonMobil's latest 4th generation turbine oil designed to compete with the industry leading 4th gen product, BP 2197 (now owned by Eastman), after EM withdrew their last offering, MJ 291. This product is designed to provide low deposits, the hallmark of 4th generation products, with better seal performance. It is still undergoing OEM approvals and flight testing. Shell's 4th generation oil is called Ascender and is also still undergoing approvals. The Port Allen facility will make a variety of synthetic base oils, including POEs and ANs, and the blending plant will also be multi-functional. The aviation turbine oil blending equipment will likely be isolated from other blended oils to avoid cross contamination, and dedicated for their three turbine oils, MJ II, MJ 254, and MJ 387. While I would expect EM to discontinue 3rd generation MJ 254 when their 387 is fully approved (unless they seek a premium price for 387), it will likely take years for it to displace 2nd generation MJ II. Tom NJ
 

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A very large investment in their future considering all the competition then. Big business, big bets!
 

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Originally Posted By: DeepFriar
A very large investment in their future considering all the competition then. Big business, big bets!
Boeing forecasts (2014-2033) that the commercial flying fleet worldwide will double from around 20,000 to 40,000 aircraft in that time. That counts both retirements and new orders. So, plenty of business to go around for a jet oil supplier, maybe a new dedicated plant is not such a big risk after all.
 
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Actually there are only three significant players that sell turbine engine oils to the commercial airlines: ExxonMobil, Eastman (was AirBP), and Shell. Historically ExxonMobil and Eastman have had about equal shares totaling over 90% of the demand. Shell takes up most of the rest. The field is limited by high barriers to entry, specifically the high cost of product development & qualification (10+ years and millions of dollars) and the high liability of the application. In spite of the few players, competition is surprisingly high and major airlines are fought over fiercely. Defense of market share seems to trump profit/gallon, perhaps because volume throughput for dedicated equipment greatly influences cost and ROI. Total demand in the commercial airline segment is only around seven million gallons and growth is low. While the number of people flying and hence airplanes have been growing nicely, this growth is largely offset by fewer engines per plane, more oil efficient engines, and fuller flights. Global militaries add about another million gallons or so of demand, but these oils often require less of an approval process and so there are more qualified suppliers. The color of jet turbine engine oils is due primarily to additives, especially the oligomerized amine anti-oxidants often used in 4th generation oils, which can vary in color depending on the manufacturing process. The polyol ester base oils are clear to pale yellow in color and constitute about 95% of the oil. ExxonMobil is moving their polyol ester production from their Edison NJ plant to the new chemical complex in Port Allen, which will make other synthetic base oils in addition to the POEs. Likewise the lubricant blending facility will blend numerous lubricants, but they will likely hard-pipe isolate a blend tank or two, along with a dedicated packaging line, for the turbine oils. So the investment is carried by many products/applications/markets. Interestingly, jet engine oils are still packaged in steel hermetically sealed round cans (no plastic). Tom NJ/VA
 

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Seven million gallons, that seems more of a small niche than I would have thought. At 42 gallons per that's about 170,000 barrels, even less if it's packaged at 50/55 if that happens to be the case. I could still see growth here. Most of the shift to two engines has happened and the Airbus 380 business disaster doesn't augur well for anybody to try to go super high density again anytime soon. So the fleet will double. I guess I just didn't see the segment as so small. Do you see any increases due to transition to higher pressure/temps and geared fans? Would those increase the stress on lubrication? One other question for you - do all three of the major suppliers use similar processes to produce the jet oil? Reacting acids with alcohol or ....
 
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Higher temperatures, pressures, and loads could increase oil consumption, but this is highly dependent on the engine design. Modern engines are about 10x more oil efficient than old engines (>20 years). While oil consumption can change with design and operating conditions, I suspect the change would be modest. The three major suppliers of commercial jet turbine engine oils all use polyol esters (POEs) as the exclusive base oil(s), which are reaction products of short chain fatty acids (C5 to C10) and polyol alcohols (pentaerythritol, trimethylolpropane, and/or dipentaerythritol). ExxonMobil make their own polyol esters while Eastman and Shell buy the esters from major producers such as Hatco and Calumet. The POEs constitute about 93-95% of the formulation, and the additives include anti-oxidants, anti-wear, and anti-corrosion additives. All three blend, quality control, and package their own oils, although some portion of some brands are also blended and packaged by third parties. The oils are sold primarily in steel quart cans, 55 gallon drums, and totes. Tom NJ/VA PS - My son also works in aviation in Georgia.
 

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Sorry to belabor the subject but will the 100,000HP+ gearboxes use the same lubricant as the shaft bearings along the turbine stages? The environments would seem to be so different with regard to shearing for instance.
 

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Originally Posted By: DeepFriar
the 100,000HP+ gearboxes ..... .. The environments would seem to be so different with regard to shearing for instance.
So some variation on Mobil AGL trans grease or the SHC types used in wind turbines perhaps?
 
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Originally Posted By: DeepFriar
Sorry to belabor the subject but will the 100,000HP+ gearboxes use the same lubricant as the shaft bearings along the turbine stages? The environments would seem to be so different with regard to shearing for instance.
Current commercial jet turbine engines use a 5 cSt POE based oil meeting MIL-PRF-23699 and/or SAE AS5780 specifications, plus individual engine manufacturer requirements. While these oils do contain a phosphate type anti-wear/mild EP additive, they are not considered "high load" oils. Nonetheless they satisfy the needs of the turbine core and APUs. Latest developmental targets seek only modest improvements in load carrying. These oils do not contain any polymers such as dispersants or VI Improvers and therefore shearing is negligible. There are similar POE based high load oils available, developed for supersonic aircraft engines, that meet the same physical properties of the above specifications but have higher load carrying capability. The most common are Eastman ETO 25 and AeroShell 555, which meet the DOD-L-85734 specification and are used mostly in helicopter gearboxes. Many if not most helicopter gearboxes, however, use standard MIL-PRF-23699 oils. For the gear reduction requirements of turboprop engines, special ester/PAG based 7.5 cSt oils are available such as Eastman Turbo Oil 274 and AeroShell 98. These oils meet the DEF STAN 91-98 specification. Tom NJ/VA
 

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Thanks Tom. Walter Mitty engineer as I am, I am fascinated by the forces involved in these extreme high pressure applications. Use of the step-down gear boxes in turbine engines and their lubricants has probably been mostly sussed out in marine applications (maybe excepting the extreme low temp regime). I had seen the runup of GE's 127,000 pound thrust engine test and it took my mind straight to possible failure modes given the size and weight restrictions that aircraft gearboxes face that marine apps do not. Metallurgy and lubricants (not to mention assembly processes, etc) look to be the gating items. With other input from the list (apologies, can't remember who) that the boxes might be "sealed for life", the fascination with the engineering of it all got me going. Thank you for your knowledge and insights.
 
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