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Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

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Old 04-26-2003, 06:18 AM
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Post Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

I did some more research into the differences between the various classes of base oils. Specificaly, Group II, group II+ and Group III. Chevron has an excellent online search library. I was able to find technical papers and webpages loaded with technical information.

By far the best I found was a paper titled The Evolution of Base Oil Technology. This is a highly recommended must-read for the lube oil enthusiasts on this forum. It summarizes the history of lube oil manufacture from early primitive methoods and solvent refining, up to present day hydroprocessing.

What I was looking for and found, is that "all-hydroprocessed" Group II, II+ and III oils are all made with the exact same process. The only difference is the minimum Viscosity Index number of the finished product. Group II is 80-119, Group II+ is 110-119 and Group III is >120. (Please note that there is a distinction between "all-hydroprocessed" oils and oils in the same category where the manufacturer uses both hydroprocessing and solvent refining in the processing of their base oils.)


Summary

The first primitive hydrocracking process for lube oil was attempted in the late 1930's but was uneconomic and abandoned in favor of the by then commercialized solvent refining process.

After WWII, the forerunner to hydroprocessing technology was imported from Germany. (My guess it was 'liberated', along with jet turbine engine and rocket propulsion technology.) Chevron commercialized this technology for fuel production in the late 1950's. In 1969 the first hydrocracker for base oil manufacturing went into production using technology licenced by Gulf Oil Company.

The first catalytic dewaxing and wax hydroisomerization technologies were commercialized in the 1970's. Shell used a combination of hydroisomerization and solvent dewaxing to produce high V.I. feedstock. Mobil used catalytic dewaxing in place of solvent dewaxing, but still used it with solvent extraction.

In 1984, Chevron was the first to combine catalytic dewaxing with hydrocracking and hydrofinishing. This was the first commercial demonstation of an all-hydroprocessing manufactured base oil.

In 1993, Chevron commercialized the first modern wax hydroisomerization process. This was an improvement over previous catalytic dewaxing because it lowered the pour point of the base oil by isomerizing (reshaping) the n-paraffins and other molocules with waxy side chains into very desirable branched compunds with superior lubricating qualities rather than cracking them away. This process is licenced by Chevron under the name ISODEWAXING. One third of the base oil manufactured in North America is manufactured under the licence of this process. A side benefit of this process is greater range of crude oil flexibility and less reliance of a narrow range of crude oils from which to make high-quality base oils. ExxonMobil has an all-hydroprocessed technology called Mobil Selective Dewaxing, (MSDW).


Group II - Modern Conventional Base Oils

Base oils made by hydrocracking and isomerization technologies had such a signifigant increase in desirable performance over solvent refining technology that in 1993 the API categorized base oils by composition. Solvent refined oils are now referred to as group I base oils. Group II base oils are a vast improvement over group I because they contain lower levels of impurities. Because they are so pure, they have almost no color at all. Improved purity means the base oil and additives can last longer under use. The oil is more inert and forms less oxidation byproducts that can increase viscosity and react with additives.


Group III - Unconventional Base Oils

The API defines the difference between Group II and III base oils only in terms of V.I., viscosity index. Base oils with conventional V.I. (80-119) are Group II and base oils with an "unconventional" V.I. (120+) are Group III. Group III base oils are also called unconventional base oils (UCBO's) or very high V.I. (VHVI) base oils. Group II+ base oils have the same maximum V.I. as Group II (80-119), but have a higher minimum V.I. (110-119).

From a process standpoint, Group III oils are made by the same process as Group II oils, but the V.I. is increased by increasing the temperature of the hydrocracker. The product V.I. can also be increased by increasing the V.I. of the feedstock. Which is done by selecting the appropriate crude.


Group IV - Traditional "Synthetic" Base Oils (PAO)

"The word "synthetic" in the lube industry hase traditionaly been synonymous with PAO, poly-alfa-olefins, which are made from small molocules. The first commercial process for making PAO was pioneered by Gulf Oil in 1951. In the 1960's, Mobil patented an improved process. In the 1970's, Mobil began to market their product as 'Mobil 1'.

Since then, the demand for PAO has grown and some base oil manufactures began using higher V.I. feedstocks to make mineral oils with V.I.'s that matched the PAO's. These new Group III oils were not manufactured from small molecules like traditional synthetics but they bridged the performance gap at a lower cost. Some lubricant manufactures began replacing PAO's with Group III base oils in their "synthetic" engine oils. This created a controversy in the lubricants industry because some believed that PAO's were the only true synthetics.

The National Advertising Department of the Better Business Bureau ruled that Group III base oils can be considered "synthetic" because modern oils made using hydroisomerization technology have most of the same performance features of the early synthetics.

Well I tried to summarize the technical paper but instead ended up writing one of my own. But I've really just scratched the surface of the technical paper, so I encourage everyone to read it when you have time. If you want to print it out, it's 14 pages.

I guess if I have to draw one conclusion, it's that when you see *ISOSYN* on a bottle or case of Chevron oil, wheither it's Chevron Supreme or DELO, you know now that it was made with the same ISODEWAXING process as used in their Group III synthetic. Just a diffenent Viscosity Index number. So it's not just some marketing gimmic, it's the real deal.

Here's another link you might find interesting. It's a base oils faq from Chevron's Base Oil's Department. There's some good links in the menu on the left of it.

One other thing. Pennzoil has a process the called PUREBASE Technology. I'm pretty sure they must use the same sort of hydroisomerization process. So there's plenty of opportunity for more research on similar processes by different oil companies. It would also be pretty safe to say that only a few on the major oil companies own the licence to this type of technology, and sell the licence rights to other companies. There's no point in everyone reinventing the wheel.

Scott
 

Last edited by horsepuller; 11-04-2007 at 09:05 PM.
  #2  
Old 04-26-2003, 07:30 PM
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Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

Scott,
While I haven't had time to read the 14 page document, it appears to be the same as the one you "sticky'ed" awhile back. The link to the FAQ's didn't work for me. I had a feeling the "tech" I spoke with was clueless about ISO/SYN being a marketing tool. All of the data I previously had referred to it as a process. I didn't see any mention of the Gp II+ other than the VI. Gp III's do not mix well with additive packages just like the PAO's. Did you come across something in your research that showed a mixture of Gp III and Gp II+, using the GpII+ as a binder like an ester? Otherwise, what would they be using to get the additive package to mix with the basestock?

Still, dollar for dollar, the best deal on the market. I plan on showing my analysis of 10w-30 Chevron Supreme in a 02 SCrew, 4.6, and it will be ALL high speed hiway miles. I will also be accounting the fuel mileage so we can all see if a heavier weight oil actually effects mileage. My daughter graduates from college Memorial Day and she is 1200 miles down the road.

Thanks for the info.
 
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Old 04-26-2003, 10:15 PM
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Thumbs up Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

That's a very good summary of the article, Scott, and very helpful. I think I'm slowly but surely getting a better handle on this stuff.
Originally posted by Horsepuller
.... I guess if I have to draw one conclusion, it's that when you see *ISOSYN* on a bottle or case of Chevron oil, wheither it's Chevron Supreme or DELO, you know now that it was made with the same ISODEWAXING process as used in their Group III synthetic. Just a diffenent Viscosity Index number. So it's not just some marketing gimmic, it's the real deal
So ISO-SYN is just a fancy name for the process known as ISODEWAXING, is that one of the things you get out of the article?


Originally posted by Flash
.... Gp III's do not mix well with additive packages just like the PAO's...
Flash, that is an interesting point that should not get lost in the shuffle. I think there is a strong possibility that, aside from the lower cost of refinement, another reason why Chevron is opting to go with the Group II+ base oils in the Delo and Supreme is because they mix better with the ALL IMPORTANT additives (anyone see where I'm going with this?)
 
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Old 04-27-2003, 01:38 AM
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Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

Thanks for the input guys. I appreciate you taking the time to review the data.

Flash, I fixed the link the the Base Oils FAQ. You can view it now. Thanks.

Concerning your comment about Group III oils being incompatible with additive packages: I didn't read any data in the paper to support that. If you read bullet #5 in the FAQ, it addresses the use of additives with all-hydroprecessed base oils. Here is the quote:
5. Can I use my current additives with ChevronTexaco base oils? Can I use less additive?
ChevronTexaco base oils provide manufacturers many formulating options since they are compatible with a wide array of additives and additive systems. To fully leverage the superior properties of ChevronTexaco base oils and gain the highest performance levels available, the additive system should be optimized for all products. In some cases, the higher purity and enhanced oxidation resistance of ChevronTexaco base oils may allow lower treat rates of specific additives in fully-formulated oils. For example, many products can use lower levels of oxidation inhibitors while maintaining or improving oxidation resistance. Likewise, other products can achieve better dispersancy of ultra-fine particles while using somewhat less dispersant. In all cases, it is important to test the fully-formulated lubricant to assure that the desired level of product performance is achieved.
The new link the the 14 page paper titled The Evolution of Base Oil Technology is only similar to the previous link to the the 24 page paper titled The Synthetic Nature of Group III Base Oils in that they share three of the same authors. (Kramer, Lok and Krug). The 'Evolution' paper seems to be a better summary overall of all groups of available base oils and their history. The 'Synthetic Nature' paper is mainly a discussion of Group III base stocks compared to Group IV.

Rockledge, yes, I think ISOSYN and ISODEWAXING are trademarks for Chevron's proprietary process of all-hydroprocessed base oils.

Scott
 

Last edited by horsepuller; 04-27-2003 at 01:42 AM.
  #5  
Old 04-28-2003, 05:42 AM
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Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

More on Base Oils:

I did more research to find out what other oil companies were manufactureing 'all-hydroprocessed' base oils. The data from Chevron was plentiful and readily available but I wanted to broaden my research to include as many oil companies as I could find. Although I am getting the impression that Chevron is the leader in the 'all-hydroprocessed' technology and other companies share the technology through licencing agreements from Chevron. 33% of the group II-III base oils manufactured in North America are made by Chevron or companies licenced to use Chevron technology. Group I base oils still account for 51% of the base oil manufactured.


ExxonMobil

Here's a link to the ExxonMobil Refining Technology homepage. Use the searchbar at the bottom of the page and type in "MLDW". The search should return several links. Click on the one titled "PROCESS OPTIONS FOR PRODUCING HIGHER QUALITY BASE STOCKS". It will bring up a technical paper discussing their hydro-isomerization process for manufacture of Group II and III base oils.


Shell

Here's a link to Shell's Base Oils Library

If you click on the manufacturing link, you'll find a good source of information on Shell's lube oil hydrocracking and solvent refining technology for Group I-III base oils.


Pennzoil

Pennzoil uses the trade name 'PureBase' for their lube oils made from Group II base stocks. They don't say if this technology is used for their synthetic oils, but I assume it does if they are Group III synthetics. This was the only technical information I was able to find on PureBase

The Pennzoil website was mainly geared towards the DIY oil change guy and the retail oil change outlets. They don't have a library available for research that I could find. They do however have a search feature for Technical Information Bulletins that Pennzoil fans and user's may find useful.

More on Pennzoil:

Pennzoil rolls with national promotion of reformulated motor oil This is a slightly satirical article from the Houston Business Journal on Pennzoils 'rollout' campaign to promote PureBase, their reformulated motor oils. The article is kind'a funny.

Here is a link to the legal documents from the Castrol vs Pennzoil lawsuit over Pennzoil's alleged false, deceptive and misleading advertising campaign.

In a nutshell, Pennzoil claimed to keep the insides of engines cleaner compared to the competion. FWIW, the court paper states that Pennzoil's formulations of SAE5W-30 used three different base oils. They are Excel, Petro Canada, and Chevron RLOP. The court judged in favor of Castrol.


Conoco

Conoco Base Oils


Excel Paralubes

Excel Paralubes is a joint venture with Conoco and Pennzoil. After Shell purchased Pennzoil they were required to put Pennzoil's share up for sale


Motiva Enterprises

Motiva Enterprises is a joint venture between Shell and Saudi Aramco.


Petro Canada is the largest Canadian owned oil and gas company. Canada is the 5th largest energy producer in the world.


Some more really good stuff

OSHA Technical Manual Petroleum Refining Processes. This is an excellent and online handbook on petroleum technology with descriptions and process flow diagrams.

United States Patent Office patent applications for petroleum hydrotreating.

Want your own lube oil plant? Let Bechtel build you one and licence you with ExxonMobil technology.


Two more technical papers

THE OUTLOOK FOR GROUP II/II+ AND GROUP III BASE OILS IN THE U.S. GREASE MARKET presented to 68th Annual Meeting National Lubricating Grease Institute (NLGI).

INFLUENCE OF BASE OIL COMPOSIOTION ON GROUP II & III BASE OIL COMPOSTION ON VI AND OXIDATION STABILITY by those good 'ol boys from Chevron. Kramer, Lok and Krug.



That about does it. I'm burned out on research. If this thread doesn't generate any discussion, at least it's a good resource for all the links.

Scott
 

Last edited by horsepuller; 04-28-2003 at 05:55 AM.
  #6  
Old 04-28-2003, 10:47 AM
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Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

This is a pretty good article and does show that dino has done a lot of catchup to Syn. almost doesn't make sense to use syn anymore except for extreme applications.

Good suff,

Jim Hhenderson
 
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Old 04-29-2003, 11:33 AM
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Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

Thanks so much for putting all of these links together in one place!

Is anyone here old enough to remember when lubricating oils were classed according to where the crude came from? A 1948 aircraft engine text book I have lists different properties for Pennsylvania, California, Midwest and Gulf Coast lubricating oils. Oils were also classified as "parafinic" or "asphaltic". All they did then was take the product from the distillation column and dewax by chilling and filtering. Solvent refining was mentioned as a new technology not yet in common use. Sorry for the history lesson.

Jim
 
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Old 04-29-2003, 12:07 PM
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Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

....Is anyone here old enough to remember when lubricating oils were classed according to where the crude came from?
I'm not old enough to remember that, but I do remember when getting 100,000 miles out of your car engine was more like a 'goal' that might be reached with regular maintenance and a little luck. These days, 100K out of a motor is more like the minimal acceptable standard, and some manufacturers now even warranty it out of the factory for that many miles. Clearly there have been technological breakthroughs in virtually all aspects of engine-building which are responsible for their increased longevity, but IMHO, I don't think you can ignore the considerable impact that the newer motor oils have had in terms of better lubrication and protection.
 
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Old 05-06-2003, 02:39 AM
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Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

thanks for the link it was quite informative, I needed that to re-educate myself on the history, I ts somthing that every should read.
 
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Old 05-31-2003, 08:51 AM
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Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

Good discussion on base oils as well as web sites--just found it today. I plan on exploring this issue a little more. I am currently using Valvoline but am considering a switch to Chevron Supreme. Any insight... Do you know what base stock Valvoline uses in their dino oil?
 
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Old 06-02-2003, 04:03 AM
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Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

This thread should be made into a "Sticky"!

Thanks for the research Scott!

I have been looking for the group III oils but haven't found any yet.
 
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Old 06-02-2003, 12:39 PM
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Base Oil Technology: Group I-IV, What It All Means

Hey Eric! Thanks for stopping by our neighborhood! This thread was sticky'd for a short time.

Your search for a Group III oil is made complicated by the fact that it's classified as synthetic. But neither Group III or IV synthetics are easily distinguishable from one another by looking at the bottle. Probably the MSDS would say if they were made from petroleum base stocks or PAO.

I think Shell, Chevron, Pennzoil and Castrol synthetic's are all Group III oils.

Scott
 

Last edited by horsepuller; 06-02-2003 at 12:44 PM.
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