Understanding base oils & the importance of top quality suppliers

Base Oil Types

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 15.07.56The main component of any engine oil is base oil and all engine oils are classified as either mineral, semi-synthetic or fully synthetic depending on the type of base oil used (Figure 1).

Engine oils classified as mineral use base oils that are separated from crude oil by conventional solvent refining and are themselves defined as ‘Mineral’. Engine oils classified as fully synthetic use so called ‘Synthetic’ base oils that are produced via a series of chemical reactions which tailor their properties to give a much higher level of base performance than mineral oils. An engine oil that is classified as semi synthetic is made from a blend of mineral and synthetic base oils in varying proportions and in performance terms ts somewhere between mineral and fully synthetic.

 The American Petroleum Institute (API) has categorized base oils into five categories. The first three groups are refined from petroleum crude oil. Group IV base oils are PAO (polyalphaole n) oils. Group V is for all other base oils not included in Groups I through IV. Before all the additives are added to the mixture, engine oils begin as one or more of these five API groups.

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How much base oil is used in the final product?

Typically, base oil accounts for between 60-90% of common passenger vehicle engine oil, with the rest being made up of additives like viscosity improvers, detergents, dispersants etc. – which are tailored to different manufacturers engine requirements. The quality of the base stocks used has therefore a tremendous impact on the quality of the finished product.

Top quality raw materials suppliers

For Comma customers to always be sure of the quality of the products, Comma invests in stable, consistent long-term supply relationships with top quality raw materials suppliers — of course there are often cheaper, lesser quality alternatives available from different sources at different times from different markets. Inferior or variable quality can lead to performance and mechanical failures, which is bad news for motorists, whoever installs the products and the distributors that supply them.

Comma’s suppliers offer absolute quality, consistency and continuity of supply through long standing agreements for supply of base oils and chemicals.

What do you mean by “Inferior or variable quality” base stocks?

Typically, Group II base oils are superior to Group I. With an increase in performance in mind, Comma’s mineral and semi synthetic oils moved from Group I to Group II. The table below (Fig.3) shows the key performance areas.

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I hear “Russian base stocks” are poor quality. Why is that?

Many Russian base oils have not been approved by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to provide satisfactory performance. These oils, and indeed all unapproved oils, can offer significantly lower performance compared to those used by Comma. The table below (Fig.4) gives comparisons for other base oil performance areas, between non-approved, low quality, Russian base oils and those used by Comma.

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