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AMSOIL TECH BLOG

09/01/2014

The Forthcoming ILSAC GF-6 Specification Will Introduce The Lightest Category To Date, SAE 16

AMSOIL gasoline motor oil sales are shifting quickly from predominantly 5W-30 to a combination of 0W-20 and 5W-20 viscosity grades. Historically, motor oils have depended heavily on a film of oil to keep engine parts separated, reducing metal-to-metal friction. The idea is that the oil film reduces friction between parts in motion, reducing wear and improving performance. Now the industry is working on reducing hydrodynamic friction between moving parts, something very different, which we will call fluid friction. Reducing fluid friction requires reducing internal friction of the lubricant. This is done through reducing lubricant viscosity. Some of you may be thinking, "Wait a minute, Dan, you just said that motor oils depend on a thin film of oil to reduce metal-to-metal friction and now you are saying that motor oils need to be thinner to reduce fluid friction. Have you been smelling solvents in the lab too long?"

Well, I have spent a lot of time in the lab over my career, but hopefully have a few brain cells left to tide me over to retirement. Reducing fluid friction depends on reducing the lubricant's resistance to flow. For a given lubricant design, the higher the viscosity, the more energy it takes for engine parts to move and for the oil to be pumped around the system. But there is a limit to how low you can go without allowing metal-to-metal friction. For those, like me, who grew up using 10W-40 in our vehicles the idea of yet another lower viscosity motor oil category is a little scary. This idea of reducing fluid friction to improve fuel economy can't go below a 0W-20 right? Well, enter SAE 16.

This evolution is continuing with the approval and introduction of the new API SAE 16 category. This is a lighter viscosity compared to the 20-weight category and, of course, all of this work is supporting the improvement in fuel economy outlined in new U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

Development of this new category was done by making the SAE 20 category tighter. Now the new SAE 16 viscosity category covers what used to be the bottom end of the SAE 20 category where no commercial motor oils were ever designed. This lower viscosity category improves fuel economy further for engines designed for this lubricant. It reduces the fluid friction, and engines run more economically as a result. This motor oil is thinner and does not depend as much on the thin layer of oil for proper protection; rather, oil additives play a bigger role in overall engine protection. This does not mean that base oils are less important in overall protection; it is actually the opposite - outstanding base-oil lubricity is even more important than before because the thin film of oil at operating temperature just got thinner. What it also means is that high-tech motor oil additives are becoming an even more important part of engine protection than ever before.

These thinner motor oils will be covered by a new specification with the next round of gasoline motor oil specifications, which will be separated into two categories: GF-6A and GF-6B. The first category, GF-6A, will be focused on protection for gasoline direct-injection (GDI) engines, which will be the predominant engine platform moving forward and will be backward compatible to older engines. GF-6B, on the other hand, will not be backward compatible and will only cover the new SAE XW-16 category. These lubricants will be required for vehicle manufacturers to help meet the stringent CAFE requirements for new vehicles.

The engine protection requirements will be the same as those outlined in GF-6A, but GF-6B will use a different formulation to achieve these goals because of the ultra-low viscosity requirement.

Just when I was getting used to the idea of putting 5W-20 in my 2010 Ford Fusion, now I have to get my head around the potential of XW-16 for a Honda Civic. When I was younger, I had a boss who had big brass boots on his desk inscribed with the words, "Don't bring me your problems, bring me your solutions." New problems almost always create opportunities for new and innovative solutions. In this case, you can be sure that AMSOIL will move quickly from the problem to the solution.

AMSOIL Synthetic Oil in Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol, Greeneville

SYNZILLA.com LLC is a large nationwide Dealer of AMSOIL Synthetic Lubricants and is now expanding into your area and surrounding states. If you are a business owner or are an individual with several vehicles, AMSOIL has several options available that may allow you to purchase AMSOIL products at wholesale prices. We can show you how to extend equipment life and save money with AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oils, Lubricants, Filters and Fuel Additives. Please visit the AMSOIL Online Store and Website for more information about AMSOIL Products.

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