Understanding Fuel Contaminants
By Tom Bock
Usually this column is dedicated to oil contamination issues however with recent developments by the EPA to include heavy duty trucks in the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emission Requirements it may be a good time to keep everyone informed of these developments. The EPA GHG regulations are setting standards for emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and hydro fluorocarbons starting with 2014 model year and increasing in stringency through 2018. When you add this to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration push to increase fuel efficiency standards for Heavy Duty Trucks there will be some real challenges in the next few years. I am sure everyone remembers all the issues around the 2007 and 2010 emission standards.
Engine Manufacturers, The American Society for Testing Materials and Oil Companies are working together to meet the new standards while not causing premature oil related failures. The next generation engines will most likely have increased temperatures and pressures as well as different metallurgy and injection systems.
The additional heat and pressure will require oils that can withstand the reduction of shear viscosity- the ability of the oil to maintain proper oil film thickness. The additional heat will also increase oxidation – a reaction between oxygen and oil that can cause acids to form in the oil. It will be extremely important to keep condensation - H20 out of the oil, since you need H20 to react with Sulfur and Nitrogen to create acids when combined and heated. The cleanliness of the oil will have a major effect on shear due to the additional pressures. Any solid contaminants will increase wear when flowing under the higher pressure; this is similar to a sand blasting operation.
The engine manufacturers know that they can improve fuel economy and reduce C02 emission by using lower viscosity oil. Lower viscosities improve fuel economy but higher viscosities afford better wear protection. 30 weight oil is thinner than 40 weight oil and will produce better MPG. The higher the MPG the less carbon emissions as less fuel is burned per mile.
The oil companies are working to design synthetic oils that can provide fuel economy and decrease engine wear and the Oil Testing Labs are designing new tests to evaluate fuel economy through a bench test rather than on-road testing to ensure the product is to the market timely.
There will also be a new designation added for the newer oils as they may not be compatible with engines designed prior to 2014 -2018 model years. This may add to some confusion but hopefully, the American Petroleum Institute will make it very clear so that you will know, for example, if you need CJ4 oil or the newer blend that may be categorized as CK4 etc.
If you do not plan on purchasing a new vehicle to meet the EPA / NHTSA standards you can still take advantage of the research conducted by the engine manufacturers and start using a high quality 10W30 coupled with a bypass system that keeps oil clean and removes the condensation to prevent acid formation, sludge and oxidation.
I obviously would recommend the OPS EcoPur System but there are many systems on the market that can help protect engine wear while extended oil drains. Do your homework and start saving $$$$ on oil maintenance, improve fuel economy and extend engine life.
If you have any questions about oil sampling, oils or bypass systems please send to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org