Which lubricant component will be most critical to meeting future challenges for your main lubricant applications?

TLT Sounding Board August 2017


© Can Stock Photo Inc. / AJT

Base stock was the overwhelming choice among those TLT readers responding to this month’s survey. The primary reason, as most respondents noted, is that base stock accounts for more than 50% of the finished lubricant and is critical to all of its functions. Base stocks also are the focus of ever-evolving environmental regulations. Plus, as one reader said, “Improving base stock reduces the need for so many additives.” After base stocks, the broad category of additives came next in the following order: antioxidants, viscosity modifiers, antiwear, EP, friction modifiers, corrosion inhibitors and, for those in the metalworking industry, antimicrobials and lubricity additives. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents anticipate replacing their base oil in the near future to meet OEM, API or other specifications.

Base stock because it improves the life of the lubricant.

Viscosity modifier.

Base stock due to the increasing demand of lower-viscosity grade oil requirements driven mainly by fuel efficiency and environmental regulations.

Effective additives that also are eco-friendly to meet the ever changing requirements of environmental regulation.

Base stock—viscosity and solvency.

PAG high-temp and polar properties.

I believe that oxidation controls will be paramount in the future due to our constant battle to extend oil change intervals while still protecting the equipment.


PAGs. Their oxidation and thermal stability with better friction coefficient, high VI and inability to form varnish make it a no brainer. If the so-called Big Oil know-it-alls would learn more about these products and stop publishing complete untruths about these lubricants, they might realize the fact that PAGs are pretty amazing. These fluids seem to offer superior all-around performance to any other base stocks and offer many other advantages. With PAGs available in oil soluble, oil insoluble and water soluble, the potential is enormous. Dialectic strength for water soluble and oil insoluble is the only disadvantage.

Base stock based on the uptick in the use of synthetics in the automotive industry.

Lubricity additives to enhance lubricity for the lower-viscosity, less-polar base stocks. There is a demand to reduce internal friction, and the base stocks are becoming more refined and less polar. The demand for lubricity additives will increase.

Base stock. In gas engines there will be a tendency to change from Group I to Group II in base stock to reach more hours in use.

Base stock, but it is a difficult question to answer. All components work together in a good formulation.

Viscosity modifier.

Antimicrobials, because they have a significant influence on metalworking fluid longevity.

Synthetic base stocks.

Base stock.

Lubricity additives. In metalworking tool life, it is one of the key elements for cost reduction.

Base stock. Viscosities are constantly decreasing.

It’s different in each industry. However, we reach the performance limits of antioxidants more often than other components. Improving antioxidant technologies will be an important challenge to meet.

Base oils, because of stricter environmental requirements.

Fluoro-silicone oils.

Chlorine-free lubricant additives for difficult operations.

Viscocity modifier, because they will define the fuel economy.

Base stocks are likely to be the most important component. There is still uncertainty around the availability of certain base stocks, feedstock constraints, gas-to-liquid technology, alternative sources and meeting required specifications.

Sulfur-phosphorus auto gear oil additive package.

Antiwear. Smaller reservoirs and greater power through put.

Base stocks and VII as they form foundation of lubricants. Additive technology is becoming a critical element as base oil technology changes.

Better base stocks. Improving base stock reduces the need for so many additives.

Base stock. Because of the high VI levels and percent of saturates.

Base stock because it forms more than 50% of the finished products.

Base stock, antioxidant and antiwear will be the most critical component for the fuel economy requirement impacted on the weight, size of power train and transmission system to be smaller and heavy duty.

Friction modifier. It needs to provide reduced friction in a very complex system of components and fluids. Not a simple thing when many of those components compete for the surface as well.

I think base stock is always the most important, whether it is line flush, Group I, Group II, Group III or any variety of synthetic. You can customize it to your equipment’s needs. A sealed-for-life bearing should have a synthetic lubricant while a basic, leaky, hydraulic cylinder will do fine with line flush.

Which synthetic base stock—Group III, IV or V—is likely to meet your future lubricant needs?
Group III 47%
Group IV 34%
Group V 19%
Based on responses sent to 13,000 TLT readers.

Extreme pressure additive that is REACH compliant.

Base stock. The majority of every lubricant is base stock. It must be the optimum for the application. Additives merely enhance the base stock.

Additives in general.

Additives. The range of base oil/stocks are limited, but additives play a big role in varying the performance parameters of the finished product.

You do not need such refined products for current applications. Remember, the more refined the more expensive.

VI improver.

High-performance additives.

Group II and III base stocks.

Oddly enough, Group I. It seems to be important to blend it in with Groups II and III for overall performance. Note: This is a user’s/specifier’s perspective, not a supplier’s perspective.

(1.) Antioxidant for engine oil to minimize engine oil oxidation and deposit formation and (2.) friction modifiers for transmission oils for anti-shudder and smooth shifts.

Base stock solubility. Antioxidants are critical to prevent varnish-like deposits.

Antioxidants to give the greases longer life.

For industrial applications such as gears and bearings, additives in general as efficiency becomes more important and designs leave less room for errors.

Base stock. With the anticipated cost increase, we want to have quality and still be able to have a profit margin.

(1.) Base stock (less of it), (2.) viscosity modifier (more extreme viscosity requirements), (3.) antiwear additives (increased design dependence on reliability in boundary lubrication).

With increasing pressure and load (hydraulics, engine, etc.), I believe VII will need to be more and more shear stable.

Base stock max operating temperature.

Corrosion inhibitors will play an increasing part in our product line as more and more of our lubricants are used in harsh environments.

Base stock improvements will play the most critical role as I meet future challenges.

Base stocks. Prices need to decrease in order for the high performance/specialty segment to remain viable in this increasingly frugal market.

Multifunctional polymeric additives.

Viscosity modifier.

BHT because of its environmental classification.

Biocide/preservative to successfully replace formaldehyde donors.

Antioxidants: longer service drains, more severe service in both industrial and transportation.

Viscosity modifier. Compatibility when mixing greases.

EP additives such as chlorinated paraffins due to EPA regulations.

Base stock since it is the major component and all other components must be compatible with it.

A key to driving down cost is base stock selection. I see a bigger drive to Group II+ and Group III+ to replace PAO.

The base oil is the base of the lubricant. The more properties we can improve in the base oil, the fewer additives we need, or we can stretch the application further.

In my company’s case, it will be the urea grease thickener, which can replace lithium soap and lithium complex thickeners that are rising in cost due to the demand for lithium outpacing its supply.

Group III and PAO, for endurance.

Performance additives and friction-reducing additives are likely to be most important in meeting efficiency requirements and power dense applications.

By far base stock selection. So many applications are depending on the oil’s ability to stay in grade in adverse operating conditions. This is particularly true in automotive engine applications.

Base stock due to where the supply is coming from. I see that Group I is on the decline; Group II and higher is on the rise. The higher the quality the more demand it will see in the overall trend. Additive technology is always changing and fast. There will always be a more efficient additive in the future as tech allows us more options. Base stock is the volume and bulk and sets the standard for the quality lubricant. If anyone can produce a base stock in the greatest volume synthetically, that is the keystone.

Base stock is a critical function that needs to be met in our applications. Our company has seen problems with base stock that is too dark in color or has been re-refined and contains an odor that is not pleasing to the end-user.

We predominantly make metalworking fluids, not lubricants. Having said that, the base stock is most important because if the incorrect base stock is selected, additive solubility issues can result.

EP additives. Restrictions on chlorine and phosphorus are looming and processes are getting more demanding.

Additive components.

Friction modifiers in low-viscosity engine oils (for large engines).

Friction modifiers. With the expected reduction in the use of zinc, phosphorus and other metals, especially in PCMO, friction modifiers will need to be developed to replace them.

Pressure-viscosity modifiers.

Detergent/dispersants because of high soot contamination in new engines. 

Do you foresee having to change/upgrade your lubricant base stock in the near future to meet new OEM, API or other specifications?
Yes 51%
No 22%
Maybe 27%
Based on responses sent to 13,000 TLT readers.

Editor’s Note: Sounding Board is based on an email survey of 13,000 TLT readers. Views expressed are those of the respondents and do not reflect the opinions of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. STLE does not vouch for the technical accuracy of opinions expressed in Sounding Board, nor does inclusion of a comment represent an endorsement of the technology by STLE.