skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Development of Modified Pag (Polyalkylene Glycol) High VI High Fuel Efficient Lubricant for LDV Applications

Engine oils play a critical role in friction reduction. Improvements in engine oil technology steadily improved fuel economy as the industry moved through ILSAC GF-1 to GF-5 specifications. These improvements were influenced by changes in base oil chemistry, development of new friction modifiers and their treat levels, and the total additive package consisting of various other components. However, the improvements are incremental and further fuel consumption reduction opportunities are becoming more challenging. Polyalkylene glycol (PAG) based engine oils are being explored as a step forward for significant fuel consumption reduction. Although PAG fluids are used in many industrial applications, its application as an engine oil has been explored in a limited way. The objective of this project is to deep dive in exploring the applicability of PAG technology in engine oil, understanding the benefits, and limitations, elucidating the mechanism(s) for friction benefits, if any, and finally recommending how to address any limitations. The project was designed in four steps, starting with selection of lubricant technology, followed by friction and wear evaluations in laboratory bench tests which are relatively simple and inexpensive and also served as a screener for further evaluation. Selected formulations were chosen for more complex engine component levelmore » tests i.e., motored valvetrain friction and wear, piston ring friction using a motored single cylinder, and motored engine tests. A couple of formulations were further selected based on component level tests for engine dyno tests i.e., Sequence VID (ASTM D6709) for fuel economy, Sequence IVA (ASTM D6891) for valvetrain wear, and Sequence VG (ASTM D6593) for sludge and varnish protection. These are some of the industry standard tests required for qualifying engine oils. Out of these tests, a single PAG oil was selected for chassis roll dynamometer tests for fuel economy and emission measurements using FTP (Federal Test Procedure) metro/highway cycles. Five different PAG chemistries were selected by varying the starting alcohol, the oxide monomers (ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, or butylene oxide), capped or uncapped, homopolymer or random copolymer. All formulations contained a proprietary additive package and one which contained additional antiwear and friction modifier additives. Laboratory bench tests (Pin-on-Disk, High Frequency Reciprocating Rig (HFRR), Block-on-Ring, Mini-Traction Machine (MTM) identified formulations having friction, wear, and load carrying characteristics similar to or better than baseline GF-5 SAE 5W-20 oil. Motored valvetrain and motored piston ring friction tests showed nearly 50% friction reduction for some of the PAG formulations compared to GF-5 SAE 5W-20 oil. Motored engine tests showed up to 15% friction benefit over GF-5 SAE 5W-20 oil. It was observed that friction benefits are more related to PAG base oil chemistry than their lower viscosity compared to GF-5 SAE 5W-20 oil. Analysis of wear surfaces from laboratory bench tests and bucket tappets from motored valvetrain tests confirmed the presence of PAG molecules. The adsorption of these polar molecules is believed to be reason for friction reduction. However, the wear surfaces also had thin tribo-film derived from additive components. The tribo-film consisting of phosphates, sulfides, and molybdenum disulfide (when molybdenum additive was present) were observed for both GF-5 SAE 5W-20 and PAG fluids. However, when using PAG fluids, motored valvetrain tests showed high initial wear, which is believed to be due to delay in protective tribo-film formation. After the initial wear, the wear rate of PAG fluids was comparable to GF-5 SAE 5W-20 oil. The PAG oil containing additional antiwear and friction reducing additives showed low initial wear as expected. However, when this oil was evaluated in Sequence IVA test, it showed initially low wear comparable to GF-5 oil but wear accelerated with oil aging indicating rapid deterioration of additive components. ASTM Sequence VG test showed good sludge protection capability but failed to meet varnish rating for GF-5 requirement. Chassis roll dynamometer tests with PAG oil 15-1 showed about 1% fuel economy benefit over GF-5 SAE 5W-20 oil in EPA city cycles only and when the oil was slightly aged (500 miles). No fuel economy benefits could be observed in combined EPA metro/highway cycles. Also, no fuel economy benefit could be observed with continued (500- 10000 miles) oil aging. However, the emission level was comparable to the reference oil and was within EPA limits. Analysis of the PAG oil following tests showed low iron content although additive components were significantly degraded. The results indicate that PAG fluids have significant friction reduction potential but there are challenges with wear and varnish protection capabilities. These limitations are primarily because the selected additive components were chosen to provide a fluid with no metal content that forms little or no sulphated ash. Significant development work is needed to identify additive components compatible with PAG chemistry including their solubility in PAG oil. Miscibility of PAG fluids with mineral base oil is another challenge for oil change service. There is PAG chemistry (oil soluble PAG, OSP) which is soluble in mineral oils but the formulation explored in this investigation did not show significant friction reduction in motored engine tests. Again, highlighting the need for additive development for specific PAG chemistry. The thermal oxidation behavior of these oils has not been explored in this investigation and needs attention.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [3]
  1. Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, MI (United States)
  2. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
  3. Dow Chemical Company, Midland, MI (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, MI (United States); Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States