Borderline Pumping Temperature OilChat#29

The topic of this newsletter was triggered by a noteworthy question that was asked by a visitor to our stand at the recent Automechanika Expo at Nasrec, Johannesburg.  The question was about Borderline Pumping Temperature (BPT) of engine oil.

The viscosity of lubricating oil becomes progressively higher as the temperature of the oil is lowered until it becomes too thick or viscous to flow. The Pour Point of lubricating oil is the lowest temperature at which the lubricant will flow under specified laboratory conditions. It is often believed that Pour Point is the lowest ambient temperature at which oil can be used in a lubricating system, but this is a misconception.

29In a system where the pump is positioned higher than the oil sump, such as an automotive engine, this will present a serious problem. We will endeavour to explain this using honey as an example. At normal room temperature honey will be above its Pour Point. When you open a jar of honey and turn it upside down, the honey will flow out under the force of gravity. Yet at the same temperature, it will be impossible to suck the honey out of the jar with a straw although the honey is still above its Pour Point. Now compare this with the engine oil circulating system on the right.

The heart of the lubrication system of an engine is the oil pump. Its function is to suck oil up from the sump (via the oil screen and oil pickup tube), and push it through the filter and into the engine to lubricate moving components. Oil pressure is created by a fluid flow restriction (orifice) in the outlet line of the pump. If for any reason, the oil pump can’t deliver its normal dose of oil, it is bad news for the engine. An oil pump failing to deliver oil to the engine is just as bad as cardiac arrest since the results are often fatal. Loss of oil pressure means loss of the protective oil film between moving engine components. With no oil to keep the surfaces apart, the engine will fail. It is therefore vital that even at very low startup temperatures, the oil must remain sufficiently fluid to enable the oil pump to suck it up and deliver it to the engine. It is crucial that adequate oil must flow from the sump through the oil screen and pickup tube to the oil pump.

When oil is cooled down, the viscosity of the oil increases exponentially with decreasing temperature. This may well result in the oil pump not being able to suck oil in from the sump, even before the Pour Point of the oil is reached. For this reason other test methods are also used to evaluate the cold temperature behaviour of engine oil, particularly lower viscosity oils that are formulated for low temperature applications. One such procedure is the ASTM D3829 Borderline Pumping Temperature of Engine Oil – a measure of the lowest temperature at which an engine oil can be supplied to the oil pump inlet of an automotive engine. BPT is normally measured using a mini-rotary viscometer (MRV).

 

However, actual operational tests in Cummins diesel engines suggest that values derived by this test method may be quite misleading. First, there is a considerable difference between the actual pumpability of two oils that are identical in every way except in the nature of the viscosity index improver (VII) additive. This BPT difference may be as much as 10°C. Secondly, the values obtained using the MRV showed virtually no difference between these oils and gave values over 20°C lower than the actual BPT in the operational tests. In addition, individual engines

differ widely in the design of their oil distribution systems, which strongly affects their low-temperature performance. For example, in one system with a restriction orifice, the size of the orifice strongly influenced the time it took for the oil to reach the bearings. At -25°C this took 90 seconds with a 1.5mm orifice (and one test engine seized during the test), while it took less than 40 seconds with a 2.0mm orifice. Other influential factors are the oil screen design as well as the diameter and length of the oil pickup tube. Oil with pumping characteristics that are satisfactory in one engine may therefore not be suitable for another at very low temperatures.

With all this in mind, we suggested in OilChat # 23 (where we discussed the Pour Point of lubricating oil in more detail) a good rule of thumb is that the Pour Point of the oil should be at least 10°C below the lowest anticipated ambient temperature. This will ensure dependable lubrication and better reliability in low-temperature applications.

Automatic Transmission Fluid OilChat#28

Modern Automatic Transmission Fluids (ATF’s) are formulated with the most complex chemistry of all lubricating fluids. During the late 1930’s General Motors developed the first truly automatic transmission that used hydraulic fluid to change gears. It was introduced as the Hydra-Matic transmission in their 1940 Oldsmobile range. Take a trip down memory lane and experience the introduction of the Hydra-Matic auto box by visiting www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vv400bysiM

Today’s automatic transmissions are worlds apart from the original designs with only two forward gears which were used during the roaring forties of the previous century when all cars would run quite well using the same ATF. The first major change came about in the 1950’s when ATF became available in two variants: ATF Types A and F. General Motors specified Type A whilst Type F was developed for Ford ATF’s. These specifications have been revised and improved repeatedly since then to bring about the current General Motors DEXRON and Ford MERCON transmission fluids. In addition, most other manufacturers have also developed their own proprietary ATF specifications.

Automatic transmissions used in present-day vehicles are nothing short of mechanical marvels. Many vehicle manufacturers are using six- and seven-speed automatic transmissions to improve fuel efficiency, performance, Automatic Transmission Fluids South Africaand drivability. Various top of the range luxury cars are now available with eight-, nine- and even ten-speed auto boxes. These transmissions are incredibly sophisticated with many of them requiring their own specific fluid formulations, such as the Mercedes-Benz 9G-Tronic transmission on the right.

An ATF has various functions to fulfil. Not only does it have to reduce friction to prevent wear like all other lubricants, it also has to allow a certain level of friction to enable the transmission’s internal clutch materials to engage. Since most manufacturers use proprietary frictional materials, virtually every ATF is manufacturer specific. In some cases, they are transmission-specific. A typical example is the Mercedes-Benz oil specification MB 236.17 that was specifically developed for the Mercedes-Benz 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission. This oil is not suitable for use in older Mercedes five- and seven-speed auto boxes. ATF’s must also be compatible with all transmission components, they have to transmit power and act as a hydraulic medium, operate at both low and high-temperature extremes, and maintain constant performance for extended periods of time. In addition, they must also control sludge and varnish, resist oxidation and prevent rust and corrosion. To fulfill all these complex tasks, a typically ATF formulation will contain the following additive components:

Antiwear Agents

Friction Modifiers

Viscosity Modifiers

Corrosion Inhibitors

Dispersants

Antioxidants

Pour Point Depressant

Seal Swell Agents

Foam Inhibitors

Dyes are also added to ATF’s to distinguish them from other fluids such as engine oil, brake fluid, and antifreeze. Traditionally all ATF’s were dyed red, but nowadays ATF’s are available in other colours, such as blue, green and yellow, depending on what is specified by the transmission manufacturer.

One may well ask whether having an automatic transmission with so many gears is really better and, if so, what the limit is. With more gears in modern automatic transmissions, they can match the engine’s optimum torque and power curve with what is needed to propel a vehicle better under all driving conditions. Simply put, extra gears allow an engine to operate more efficiently and economically, regardless of the type of operation. The downside is that more gear ratios come with some specific disadvantages. These include transmission size and weight, complexity, possible reliability issues and, last but not least, more frictional losses. As a result, you lose the efficiency benefits of more gear ratios. It is, therefore, possible that we may have reached “ultimate” auto boxes where having more and more gears will begin to see diminishing returns. In fact, some manufacturers are now focusing on Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT’s) that can change seamlessly through an unlimited range of gear ratios.

Continuously Variable Transmissions are not a new concept. For many years motor scooters have been fitted with CVT’s, usually the rubber belt with variable pulley variety, commonly known as twist-and-go transmissions. These transmissions consist of two variable-diameter pulleys, each shaped like a pair of opposing cones, with a rubber belt running between them. One pulley is connected to the engine and the other to the rear wheel. The halves of each pulley are movable. As the pulley halves come closer together, the belt is forced to ride higher on the pulley, effectively making the diameter of the pulley larger. Changing the diameter of the pulleys varies the ratio of the transmission. Making the input pulley smaller and the output pulley larger gives a low ratio for better low-speed performance. As the scooter accelerates, the pulleys vary their diameter to lower the engine speed.

Automatic Transmission Fluids SAIn CVT’s fitted to cars the rubber belt is replaced with a metal belt or chain running between the variable-diameter pulleys. This poses a unique set of different challenges as opposed to traditional ATF’s such as requiring higher shear stability and maintaining the appropriate amount of metal-to-metal friction while having enhanced anti-shudder performance. As in the case of ATF’s, there is not one universal CVT fluid that is suitable for all Continuously Variable Transmissions.

There is, however, a downside to CVT’s as well. CVT’s generally perform well in combination with smaller displacement engines, but engines developing more horsepower and torque exceed the (current) capacity of CVT’s. For this very reason CVT’s are presently not used in larger vehicles and some major manufacturers, including Chrysler and Ford, have in fact dropped CVT’s from their line-up. Other disadvantages associated with CVT’s are driver acceptance (changes in engine speed sounds like a slipping transmission), belt noise and durability (slipping CVT belts in particular).

It is, therefore, safe to assume that conventional automatic transmissions will still be with us for quite some time while other technologies are being refined. The only question is the maximum number of gear ratios that will be engineered into conventional auto boxes. Different automakers commit to transmission technologies for any number of reasons such as cost, durability, branding, experience, and drivability. In fact, because of the different advantages and disadvantages, it is hard to say that any one technology is best.

Blue Chip Lubricants first majority black-owned facility to blend and distribute global brand

Blue Chip Lubricants has completed construction of its new blending facility in Kya Sands in

Johannesburg, South Africa, and is ready to embark on a largescale blending of lubricants from Q8Oils for the South African and Sub-Saharan African market.

The company will have a major presence at Futuroad 2017 at Nasrec, part of Automechanika South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa’s leading event for the truck and bus industry. Senior management from Q8Oils, Blue Chip Lubricants, and its new equity partners will host a media event on 28 September to announce the finalization of a major Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) transaction that will give the company Level 1 accreditation.

Blue Chip Lubricants secured an agreement to blend and distribute lubricants from Q8Oils in 2015. Following the agreement, it secured funding from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to construct a new state-of-the-art blending facility and testing laboratory at Kya Sands in Johannesburg.

Q8Oils is part of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), one of the world’s largest oil companies. With 120 years of known reserves and crude oil production levels of 2.9-million barrels per day, it is ranked the seventh largest oil producer in the world. KPC’s business spans every segment of the hydrocarbon industry: on and offshore exploration, production, refining, marketing, retailing, petrochemicals and marine transportation.

“The successful conclusion of our B-BBEE transaction effectively makes us the only majority black-owned blending facility in South Africa to blend and distribute a global brand, as well as complying fully with the government’s empowerment, employment, and equity objectives,” Blue Chip Lubricants Director Kathleen Marais comments.

“With lubricants constituting the major expense for equipment-intensive industries such as mining and engineering, the fact that an international brand is now being blended locally on a large scale, in accordance with exacting international quality standards, as well as all local B-

BBEE criteria, is of immense benefit for local companies,” says Lutramart Director, Sandile Koza, who is one of the new B-BBEE partners.

“We are very excited, as we now have the opportunity to rationalize the entire value chain in the petrochemical industry, from blending and manufacture through to proactive maintenance and leveraging the lowest total cost of ownership for our customers. Not only is Blue Chip Lubricants now positioned strategically as a leading lubricant supplier, it has set a benchmark for the proactive transformation of the industry.”

With all of Q8Oils’ infrastructure concentrated in Europe, having a blending facility located strategically in South Africa effectively gives Q8Oils a gateway into the larger Sub-Saharan African market, which represents an untapped region for the oil giant’s future expansion plans.

Blue Chip Lubricants’ also aims to investigate the local manufacture of more specialized products presently imported at premium prices. It plans to engage with major OEMs represented in South Africa in order to secure the necessary approvals to become a preferred supplier to these international companies.

“This will develop our product range even further, as well as assist us in contributing actively to the government’s localization, employment, and skills development criteria in terms of its empowerment objectives,” Marais elaborates.

The B-BBEE agreement is the latest milestone in the evolution of Blue Chip Lubricants, established in 1983 as a mainly grease and oil supplier to the South African mining sector. With a plethora of smaller blenders fragmenting the total market and diluting its overall standards, the company saw an opportunity to establish its own high-quality blending facility, which allowed it to diversify successfully into other industries and markets.

“Our extensive product range includes specialized and general-purpose greases, automotive and industrial oils, cleaning and cutting fluids, and various complementary products such as grease pumps, rags, hand cleaners and degreasers,” Marais highlights. The Q8Oils lubricants range is supported by a team of technical experts.

“Here we offer products to increase operational efficiency by optimising production processes and reducing lubricant consumption. These products have all mandatory OEM approvals, and consistently meet, or exceed, the highest technical requirements and specifications of the industry,” Marais concludes

Link: http://transformsa.co.za/2017/10/bluechiplubricantsfirstmajorityblackownedfacilitytoblendanddistributeglobalbrand/

Brake Fluid OilChat #27

The brake system is possibly the most neglected component of motorcars. Most drivers check tyre pressures and change engine oil at frequent intervals, but very few motorists replace the brake fluid in their car regularly. If you don’t change your engine oil the worst that can happen, is the engine may seize and your car will come to a standstill. On the contrary, if something goes wrong with the brake system, the car will not stop – with possible catastrophic consequences!

The prime function of brake fluid is to provide a hydraulic medium with a low level of compressibility, to transmit the driver’s foot pressure on the brake pedal to the brakes. Many automotive hydraulic brake systems in use today utilize front disk brakes and drums at the rear, but four wheel disk systems are also fairly common. When braking, the kinetic energy (energy of motion) of the vehicle is converted into heat in the brakes as the vehicle slows down.  A tremendous amount of heat is generated to stop a vehicle from even a modest speed, particularly in disc brakes. The brake fluid is in close contact with the brakes and this can lead to overheated brake fluid.

Overheated brake fluid can boil in the brake lines. Boiling produces vapour (gas bubbles) within the brake fluid. Vapour is compressible and boiling brake fluid leads to a “spongy” brake pedal with long travel. In extreme cases overheated brake fluid requires that the brake pedal be “pumped’ (if you are fortunate enough to have time to do so) in order to get the brakes to respond. This necessitates a closer look at the boiling point of brake fluid.

Most brake fluids used today are glycol-ether based, but silicone type fluids are also available. Brake fluids must meet certain requirements as defined by various institutions. These include the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J1704 standard and the US Department of Transport (DOT) FMVSS 116 specifications DOT 3, DOT 4 and DOT 5.1 (glycol-ether based) and DOT 5 (silicon based). All specifications include minimum boiling points for brake fluid.

Using glycol-ether fluids is the most economical way to meet brake fluid requirements and they are almost incompressible. Glycol-ether, however, is hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere. These brake fluids start to absorb moisture from the moment they are put into the hydraulic brake system or exposed to the atmosphere. The fluid attracts moisture through microscopic pores in rubber hoses, past leaking seals and exposure to air in the brake fluid reservoir. The problem is obviously worse in wet climates where humidity is high. Moisture reduces the boiling point of the fluid significantly. Minimum boiling point limits are therefore specified for new (dry) brake fluid, as well as fluid contaminated with moisture (wet brake fluid). Wet Boiling Point is defined as the temperature brake fluid will begin to boil after it has absorbed 3.7% water by volume. Silicone fluids are non-hygroscopic which means they can maintain a higher boiling point over the service life of the fluid. A disadvantage of silicone is that it is more compressible than glycol based fluids, resulting in a “soft” brake pedal with longer travel. The differences in the boiling points of the various brake fluid specifications are listed in the table below:

 

FMVSS 116 Dry Boiling Point Wet Boiling Point
Specification (minimum) (minimum)
DOT 3 205 °C 140 °C
DOT 4 230 °C 155 °C
DOT 5 260 °C 180 °C
DOT 5.1 260 °C 180 °C

DOT 5.1 glycol-ether based brake fluid has been developed to be identical to DOT 5 silicone based fluid in boiling points but without the ‘compressibility’ of silicon fluids. Brake fluids with different DOT ratings cannot always be mixed. It must be of the same type, and at least the same or higher rating. DOT 5.1 can, therefore, replace DOT 4

and DOT 3. Likewise, DOT 4 can replace DOT 3 but not vice versa. Never mix DOT 5 silicon based brake fluid with regular glycol based fluids. None of these should be mixed with DOT 5 as the mixing of glycol and silicone fluids may lead to brake failure.

The boiling points in the table above are minimum specifications and therefore you may well find DOT 4 brake fluids with boiling points above that of DOT 5 and DOT 5.1 specifications. Today DOT 4 is the most commonly used brake fluid and the dry boiling point of most of these fluids exceeds 260°C.  The effect of water content on boiling point over time is illustrated by the graph below. The graph (by courtesy of Shell) demonstrates the declining effect water content has on the boiling point of a typical DOT 3 (red curve) and three DOT 4 brake fluids:

 

 

                                          oilchat27

The Impact of Water Content on the Boiling Point of Brake Fluid

 

We mentioned earlier that DOT specifies the minimum wet boiling point of brake fluid after absorbing 3.7% water. On average this occurs after two years in service. The graph illustrates that in most instances warning limits are reached within this period. It is therefore little wonder that most vehicle manufacturers recommend that brake fluid should be changed every eighteen to twenty-four months. The graph also shows that the boiling points of the various brake fluids decline even further over extended periods of time. When the DOT 3 brake fluid reaches 8% water content the boiling point is reduced almost to that of water!

Brake fluid is crucial to the safe operation of your vehicle. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended brake fluid replacement schedule and brake fluid type. Remember, brake fluid is what is between your brake pedal and the brakes at the wheels. Make brake fluid part of your regular maintenance routine, and replace the brake fluid when necessary to keep you and your passengers safe.

It is also important to remember that brake fluid is toxic and combustible and can damage the paintwork of your vehicle.

Blue Chip Lubricants Gets a New Sales and Marketing Director

We are very pleased to welcome Hayley Arnesen into the Blue Chip Lubricants family as our new Sales and Marketing Director.

Hayley started off her career as an English teacher after obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in Education from Wits University. After three years in the field of education she joined the corporate world. Her career has since been on an onward surge, acquiring titles such as Senior Product Manager, Marketing Manager, Marketing Director, Exports Manager, Exports & Customer Loyalty Director and now Sales & Marketing Director for Blue Chip Lubricants.

After two years of working for Discovery Health and was part of the Corporate Relations team she joined MSA, a NYSE listed global leader in the manufacturing and distribution of predominantly, more technical personal protective equipment.  During her 15 years at MSA Hayley was promoted several times and was fortunate to have filled many diverse roles.  During her time she headed up the marketing team, led the company’s expansion into Sub-Saharan Africa, pioneered the customer loyalty program for Africa and Latin America and served on global steering teams for product development.

 

She always had a passion for the safety industry as a whole and was an exco member of SAPEMA (Southern African Protective Equipment Marketers Association) for 6 years, from 2011 to 2013 she served as the first female Chairman of the association.

Some of her other achievements include working with the mining community to execute the successful South African launch of the internationally renowned safety award, the ‘JT Ryan Award’.

For the last 3 years, Hayley has been part of the dynamic and entrepreneurial team at North Safety Products.  She was successful in the expansion of North Safety’s vast product and services range into Africa by developing and supporting a branch network and larger mining clients.

Hayley joined Blue Chip Lubricants in July 2017, her range of experience in both the Marketing and Sales areas will stand her in good stead for her new exciting role, and we look forward to the wonderful things she will bring to the firm.

The Journey of Oil in the Engine OilChat#26

We have all seen bright and clear fresh oil being poured into an engine when a vehicle is serviced or when the oil is topped up between services. At the next oil change, this same oil is drained looking dirty and contaminated, much darker in colour and with a pungent odour. What we don’t see is what happens to the oil inside the engine in between the two oil services.

When oil is poured into an engine it settles in the oil pan, also known as the sump, at the bottom of the engine. The oil journey begins when the engine is started and the oil is drawn up through the pickup screen and tube by the oil pump. The pump then directs the oil to the oil filter to be cleaned. From the filter, the oil makes its way through the main oil gallery in the cylinder block, to the crankshaft main bearings. It then flows through oil passages (small drilled holes) in the crankshaft to lubricate the piston connecting Oil pump rod bearings. Another oil passage in the block sends oil to the top of the engine to lubricate the valve drive train, including the camshaft Pickup bearings, cam lobes, valve lifters and the valve stems. Once pumped through the engine the oil returns to the oil pan via gravity.

oil2In some engines oil returning to the sump, drips on the rotating crankshaft and is thrown around to lubricate the pistons, rings and cylinder walls. In other designs, small holes are drilled through the piston connecting rods to spray oil on the pistons and cylinder walls.

You may well wonder why the oil is dark and dirty when it is drained at the next service. Manufacturing modern engine oil is a precision operation. Painstaking effort is required to produce oils that will meet the demanding requirements of modern engine manufacturers. When new oil is poured from its sealed container into an engine, it goes from the controlled environment of the oil manufacturing plant into a completely uncontrolled chemical factory – the engine itself. Inside the engine the oil comes into contact with various harmful contaminants:

Water: For every litre of fuel burnt in the engine, about one litre of water is formed in the combustion chamber. At operating temperature this is not a problem since the water goes out the exhaust in vapour form (steam). When the engine is cold, however, some of the water goes past the piston rings into the oil sump. Water is one of the most destructive contaminants in lubricants. It attacks additives, causes rust and corrosion, induces base oil oxidation and reduces oil film strength.

Fuel: At start-up some of the atomised fuel comes into contact with the cold cylinder walls, condenses and find its way into the oil pan where it dilutes the oil. On the way down the fuel causes wash-down of the oil on the cylinder walls and accelerates ring, piston and cylinder wear. Fuel dilution also results in a premature loss of oil base number (loss of corrosion protection), deposit formation and degradation of the oil.

Soot: It is a by-product of combustion and exists in all in-service engine oils, diesel engine motor oil in particular. It reaches the engine oil by various means such as piston blow-by and the scraping action of the oil rings.

Whilst the presence of soot is normal in used engine oil, high concentrations of soot will lead to viscosity increase, sludge, engine deposits and increased wear. Soot is also the major contributor to oil darkening.

Dust: The ingestion of hard abrasive particles into an engine leads to rapid wear of engine components. These particles come in multiple forms including dust/sand, which consists of Silica. Normally the air filter will remove most of the dust from the air going into an engine. However, incorrect air filter maintenance and a leaking air intake system will introduce dust into the engine. Silica is much harder than engine components and less than 1 00 grams of dust can severely affect expected engine life.

Wear Metals: These contaminants are generated inside the engine by the wear of mechanical components. The wear debris is in the form of hard metal particles and abrasive metal oxides. Wear metal particles of sizes smaller than that controlled by standard filtration may well build up to grossly contaminate the oil. These contaminants can wear moving parts as well as clog oil flow passages and heat exchange surfaces. If wear debris accumulates in the oil, the result is more wear, generating more contaminants.

This process is known as the chain-reaction-of-wear. In addition, certain wear metals, such as copper, act as catalysts to promote oil oxidation. oil 3

To make things even worse, the oil comes into contact with high temperatures during its journey through the engine, temperatures in excess of 600 degree Celsius. The effect of elevated temperatures is oil oxidation, also called Black Death. Oxidation causes the oil to darken and break down to form varnish, sludge, sedimentation, and acids. The acids are corrosive to metals in the engine and the sludge can increase the viscosity of the oil, causing it to thicken. It can also increase wear and plug filters and oil passages resulting in oil starvation. In addition, oxidation is a major cause for additive depletion, base oil breakdown, loss in resistance to foaming, acid number increase, and corrosion. The good news is that modern, premium performance engine oils are formulated to withstand high temperatures and oxidation much better than oils from the past. It is therefore important to use a high-quality motor oil that meets the requirements specified by the engine manufacturer.

In conclusion, we need to slot in an important comment about oil change periods, which are directly dependent on lubricant life. Oils are primarily changed to get rid of all these harmful contaminants. It is also essential to fit a new oil filter with every lube service. Dirty or clogged filters allow contaminants to flow straight to your engine where they are responsible for the damages discussed above, as well as affecting fuel economy. You also risk blocking the flow of oil to your engine, which will result in engine failure. Finally, wear metals trapped in the old oil filter will promote early oxidation of the new oil.

Don’t become a victim of Black Death — change your engine oil sooner rather than later, make sure the oil conforms to the specifications recommended by the engine manufacturer and fit a new good quality filter. If in doubt, phone us on 01 1 964 1829 to ensure you are using the correct lubricants for your vehicle or equipment.

Antifreeze Engine Coolants OilChat#25

Research has indicated that up to 60% of all engine failures are related to the engine cooling system and ultimately to the engine coolant being used. Despite this, many vehicle owners use the cheapest coolant available and at the lowest possible concentration.

While oil may be the lifeblood of a vehicle’s engine, no engine (bar the odd air-cooled engine still around) can operate effectively and reliably without a suitable coolant. To appreciate the significance of engine coolants we need to understand their functions in engine cooling systems:

  • They need to be effective heat exchange fluids. The primary function of a coolant is to cool the engine by transferring heat away from internal engine surfaces to the cooling system.
  • Coolants have to provide corrosion protection. They must protect all the materials in the cooling system from degradation due to interaction with the hostile environment present in the cooling system.
  • They should protect against freezing (hence the name antifreeze). Water expands when it freezes which may well result in cracked engine blocks.
  • Engine coolants must prevent boiling. Boiling can lead to overheating as a saturated boiling regime (steam) is very inefficient at transferring heat. Boiling will also cause additional (vapor phase) corrosion.

 

An ideal antifreeze engine coolant is a mixture of pure water and a high-quality coolant concentrate from a reputable supplier. The recommended concentration is 50% coolant concentrate and 50% water. Water is added since it is an effective heat transfer medium. A typical coolant concentrate is a blend of ethylene glycol, normally between 88% and 96%, and the balance is made up of rust and corrosion inhibitors, lubricity agents and foam inhibitors. Dyes are also added in minute quantities to indicate the presence of the concentrate in the cooling system. While these additives make up only a small fraction of the overall coolant, they are most instrumental in differentiating one coolant from another.

Traditional coolants (based on inorganic chemistry) provide protection against rust and corrosion by forming a protective layer of inhibitor salts on metal surfaces inside the engine that is in contact with the coolant (see Figure. 1 below). While this layer provides protection, it continuously consumes active ingredients (corrosion inhibitors) from the coolant to build and retain the protective layer. These inhibitors, once used, are no longer available to provide further protection. For this very reason, the maximum service interval for traditional coolant concentrates is two years when mixed with 50% water. Another disadvantage of traditional coolants is that the protective layer restricts the heat flow from the metal surfaces to the coolant.

Asset 1

In contrast to traditional coolants, organic acid based coolants provide protection only where it is needed, i.e. where the corrosion actually takes place (Figure 2). As such it is targeted protection. It will effectively stop

corrosion from progressing, but at the same time corrosion inhibitor consumption is minimal and the majority of the surfaces in contact with the coolant remain unaffected. This results in:

  • Unrestricted heat transfer across the metal/liquid interface.
  • Longer coolant service life (hence the term long life coolant).

 

High quality engine coolants based on organic acid technology (OAT) may be used for periods up to five years when the concentrate is mixed 50/50 with water.

 

OAT long life engine coolants must not be mixed with traditional coolants since they incorporate different inhibitor chemistries. Not only will the two coolants dilute each other, they can also react chemically to form a gel rather than a liquid. The coolant then stops flowing through the system, clogs up coolant passages, water jackets, radiators, and heater cores. The water pump overheats and fails due to starvation of the lubricity agent in the coolant. Head gaskets blow, heads warp, and the engine suffers major damage. If mixing occurs, it is best to have the entire system flushed. This is the only way to be sure that the system is clean and not at risk. Failure to flush the system can, and often does, lead to engine failure and costly repairs.

 

Although the preferred dilution ratio for coolants (traditional and OAT) is 50% coolant concentrate and 50% water, they are sometimes used at lower treat rates of the concentrate. In such instances the service intervals mentioned above should be reduced accordingly. The coolant concentrate, however, should not be used at mixing ratios of less than 30%. At such low dosages the coolant will not provide adequate corrosion protection of the engine metal surfaces in contact with the coolant.

 

Hard water is a serious problem in many parts of southern Africa and reduces the performance of antifreeze coolants, traditional coolants in particular. The minerals found in hard water, react with the (inorganic) inhibitors to form calcium or magnesium phosphate, which leads to scale formation on hot engine surfaces. This can result in loss of heat transfer or corrosion under the scale. To assist vehicle and equipment operators with this problem, many coolant manufacturers market pre-diluted coolants mixed 50/50 with pure high quality water. This also ensures that the correct ratio of concentrate and water is always being used.

 

Antifreeze engine coolants can be dyed any colour, but traditional coolants are generally blue/green in colour.  Long life coolants are usually dyed orange/red. However, the aftermarket is loaded with high and low-quality coolants of all colours of the rainbow. Colour is therefore not a good indicator of the type and quality of a coolant. Although many consumers use price as the deciding factor when purchasing antifreeze engine coolants, it should be remembered that you only get what you pay for. Some of the low-priced coolants available in the market are not much more than dyed water, contributing limited cooling system protection. The best maintenance practice is to know the exact coolant required for your vehicle or equipment, source it from a reputable supplier and use it at the concentration recommended by the engine manufacturer.

If you are in doubt our experts are at your disposal and ready to provide you with advice and answer any questions you may have.

Grease Oil Separation OilChat#24

When you open a container of lubricating grease, chances are you may see a thin layer of oil at the top of the grease. The first thought that usually jumps to mind is whether the grease is suitable for use. The answer is in most instances, yes, but to understand the phenomenon of oil separation (bleeding) we need to revisit the fundamentals of grease.

Grease is a dispersion of a thickening agent in a liquid lubricant. the thickener can be compared to a ‘sponge’ that soaks up the lubricant. When the grease is subjected to stress or shear 9movement), the thickener releases the oil to provide the necessary lubrication. This is generally known as Dynamic Bleed. It is important that the grease has a controlled rate of bleeding during use to properly lubricate the bearing or component it has been placed in. The greater the amount of sheer stress encountered, the faster the grease thickener releases the oil. the thickener imparts little, if any, lubrication. If the thickener did not release the oil, the grease would be unable to perform its lubricating function.

In service, grease should also have a fair degree of reversibility after the stresses that have released the oil are relaxed. Reversibility can be described as the ability of the grease to recapture most of the oil and return to its original consistency when the equipment is shut down. The reversibility characteristics of grease are influenced by the type and amount of thickener used. The higher the thickener content, the greater the oil retention. As the base oil content is increased and the amount of thickener decreased, the forces that hold the oil also decrease, resulting in the base oil being loosely held in the thickener and easily separated.

Considering the above, one would think that using a higher thickener content is better. However, as mentioned earlier, grease with a thickener that does not release the oil readily, would be unable to perform its lubricating functions. It is therefore important that grease must have the proper balance of oil and thickener to function properly.The oil on top of grease in a container that has been opened for the first time is called Static Bleed. Static bleed, also referred to as oil puddling, occurs naturally for all types of grease and the rate of bleeding depends on the composition of the grease. Static oil bleeding is affected by:

  • Storage Temperature
  • Length of period in storage
  • Vibrations the container may be exposed to during transport or storage
  • Uneven grease surface in the container (the presence of high and low spots)

These conditions can cause weak stresses to be placed on the grease, resulting in the release of small amounts of oil and over time a puddle of oil can form on top of the grease. Reasonable static bleeding does not result in the grease being unsuitable for use. Any oil that has puddled on the grease can be removed by decanting the free oil from the surface or manually stirring it back into the grease. The quantity of oil that has separated from the grease is generally insignificant and represents a mere fraction of the total quantity of oil that is held in the thickener (typically less than 1%). This small amount of oil will not adversely affect the consistency of the remaining product and will have little or no effect on the performance of the grease.

In conclusion, it is therefore safe to say grease with puddling on the top is suitable for use subject to the following conditions:

  • The amount of oil should be small, covering only low spots on the surface of the grease.
  • The grease must readily absorb the oil upon stirring.

Ground-Breaking partnership extends Q8Oils’ business in Africa

Q8Oils is successfully expanding its business in Africa thanks to an innovative agreement with Blue Chip Lubricants, a leading manufacturer, and distributor in South Africa.

As part of its ongoing drive to expand its business around the world, Q8Oils has identified Africa as an area of high growth for lubricants. Expansion into the market, however, had been restricted by the logistics, lead time and cost of importing products from Q8Oils’ blending plant in Antwerp. To overcome these difficulties, in late 2015 a contract was signed- the first of its kind for Q8Oils- with Blue Chip Lubricants to blend, produce, and distribute Q8Oils lubricants locally in South Africa.

Blue Chip Lubricants manufactures high-quality oils under strict production and quality control measure set by Q8Oils, using the same formulations as those blended for Q8Oils customers in Europe. Laboratory testing follows the identical methods and equipment used by Q8Oils. Quick to spot the potential of this partnership with one of the world’s leading lubricant companies, Blue Chip Lubricants last year invested more than $1 million in extensively upgrading and expanding its manufacturing plant and testing laboratory. The new state-of-the-art plant has increased its annual production capacity to more than 48 million liters of lubricants and 2.4 million kilograms of grease.

 

This arrangement is opening exciting new opportunities for Q8Oils. Blue Chip Lubricants has strong business links, developed over 30 years, with South Africa’s mining, automotive, energy and metal working industries. In addition, as a local manufacturer, it can export to member countries of the Southern African Development Community free of duty, extending its reach across the continent.

Abdulmohsen Homoud, regional sales manager of the Middle East & Africa at Q8Oils, comments: “Business has been growing steadily since we set up this agreement and now that manufacturing capacity has increased, combined with the strength of our brand, we anticipate gaining a strong foothold in South Africa and further afield”

Reinder Oosterhof, Q8Oils Commercial Director, says: “Partnering with a local manufacturer is an excellent business model for expansion, giving us secure supply, competitive pricing, flexibility and access to an established distribution network; in return, partners benefit from the world-renowned quality and high reputation of our brand. We are looking at similar projects around the world and believe that this strategic thinking will give Q8Oils the edge to become a true global player”

(This article was taken out of Q8Sails Spring 2017 in Europe)

Pour Point of Lubricating Oil Oilchat#23

With winter approaching it is now an apt time to discuss the Pour Point of lubricants. The pour point of a lubricating oil can be described as the lowest temperature at which the lubricant will flow under specified laboratory conditions. It is often believed that the pour point of a lubricant is the lowest ambiant temperature at which the lubricant can be used in a machine, but this is a fallacy.

At best an oil operating at an ambient temperature that is the same as the pour point of the oil, will merely churn at the oil pump until the churning causes an increase in the temperature of the oil. The increased temperature allows the oil’s viscosity to thin down sufficiently so that it slowly begins to flow through the oil passages to the lubricated components. This can take several minutes during which severe damage may be caused to various components due to oil starvation.

Most lubricating oils are still manufactured using paraffinic mineral base oil stocks. Virtually all these mineral base oils contain small amounts of dissolved wax. As the oil is cooled down, the wax begins to separate as crystals. When cooled down further, the wax crystals start to interlock to form a three-dimensional structure that traps the oil in small pockets within the wax structure. When this wax crystal structure becomes sufficiently rigid at low temperatures, the oil will no longer flow. ASTM D97 is the most frequently used test method to determine the pour point of petroleum products.

aaa2To improve (reduce) the pour point of these oils, pour point depressants (PPDs) are added. PPDs do not in any way affect the temperature at which wax crystallizes or the amount of wax that precipitates. They simply ‘coat’ the wax crystals preventing them to interlock and forming three-dimensional structures that inhibit oil flow. Good PPDs can lower the pour point by as much as 40 0 C, depending on the molecular weight of the oil.

While the pour point of most oils is related to the crystallization of wax, certain oils, which are essentially wax free, such as polyalphaolefins (POAs), have viscosity-limited pour points. With these oils the viscosity becomes progressively higher as the temperature is lowered until no flow can be observed. The pour points of these oils cannot be lowered with PPDs. However, due to PAOs’ unique nature, they provide excellent low-temperature viscometrics and very low pour points that cannot be achieved by adding PPDs to mineral oil.

Just as important as pour point (if not more) is Cloud Point. The cloud point of an oil is the temperature at which a cloud of wax crystals start to appear when a sample is cooled under prescribed conditions. Below this temperature, the viscosity of the oil increases exponentially with decreasing temperature. This may well lead to oil pump cavitation in oil circulating systems, even before the pour point of the oil is reached — particularly in systems where the oil pump is positioned higher than the oil reservoir. ASTM D2500 is the most commonly used test method to determine the cloud point of petroleum products.

Considering all the above a good rule of thumb is that the pour point of a lubricating oil should be at least 1 O O C below the lowest anticipated ambient temperature. This will ensure dependable lubrication and better equipment reliability in the long term.