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Friday, 10 January 2014

When To Use Synthetic Base Oils

Use synthetic base oils to save you expensive breakdowns.

If you want to understand when to use synthetic base oils you should probably first know how oil companies use the term synthetic oil and what it really means.

When you pick up a bottle of oil and it says "synthetic" that term is typically intended to mean longer life and better quality at a price. The bottle might also say "synthetic blend" or have some sort of trade name that refers to synthetic oils by using the letters SYN in the title.

All of these statements are marketing terms that are designed to differentiate an oil company from its competitors when choosing the right synthetic oil.

When this marketing term is used on the bottle, it is referring to the base fluid that is used in the oil (which makes up between 75-95% of the volume). It does not refer to the additive package that is used to tailor the function of the oil for the application.

Marketing departments use synthetic oils to describe the following:

Groups III, IV, V are all referred to as "synthetic" by oil marketers. This is because even though Group III oils are derived from distilled crude the purification process they are put through, results in a fluid that is very similar if not identical to some PAO or ester based Group IV base oils.

The term "synthetic" typically describes a highly pure base stock oil that exhibits superior resistance to oxidation, high VI, and improved performance regardless of whether the process was through a controlled chemical reaction or through a distillation and purification process.

So why should you use lubricants that use synthetic base oils?

Crude-based mineral oils function very well as lubricants in probably 90 percent of industrial applications. They are cost-effective and provide a reasonable service life if used properly. However there are many applications when regular oils don’t quite meet the requirements where it’s advantageous to use synthetic base oils:
  • When the presence of waxes result in poor flow properties at low temperature. 
  • Poor oxidation stability at continuously high temperatures, which can lead to sludge and acid buildup.
  • Regular oils experience significant changes in viscosity as the temperature changes, which can cause the base oil to thin excessively at high temperature. 
  • Mineral based oils have a practical maximum upper-temperature application limit of about 125 degrees C, above which the base oil oxidizes very rapidly. It’s best to keep crude oil-based lubricants within the operating range of 40 to 65 degrees C. 
Synthetic base oils are expensive because of the processing involved in creating these pure chemical base oils. However the use of synthetic base oils is very often justified, and results in measurable gains in performance whilst reducing operating costs.

The advantages of filling with lubricants that use synthetic base oils.

With synthetic base oils being chemically engineered they are homogenous and contain no undesirable elements such as sulphur. Therefore the results obtained using synthetic base oils are more predictable and repeatable.

The two main advantages of synthetic oils over conventional base oils are their ability to outperform mineral oils at high operating temperatures above 85 degrees C and at low operating temperatures below -15 degrees C. There are other reasons to use synthetic base oils (beyond the high- and low-temperature advantage) including:
  • Improved energy efficiency due to better stability across temperature range 
  • Better resistance to oxidation 
  • Higher oil film strength with some synthetics 
  • Extended warranties by some equipment manufacturers 
  • Lower engine hydrocarbon emissions 
  • Extended drain intervals in some (clean) applications 
  • Biodegradability with some synthetics (esters) 
  • Natural detergency 
  • Higher viscosity index 
  • Fire resistance (phosphate esters) 
Irrespective of your application it’s important that when you use lubricants that use synthetic base oils you choose the best. Call Habot Synthetic Lubricants for professional advice on using our high quality lubricants to save you time and money.