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April 10, 2019

Volume 3 Issue 4

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GF-6: First Use Now in Sight

It has taken over seven years, many test development delays and missed schedules, but the end is finally in sight for ILSAC GF-6.

At the April 3 Automotive Oil Advisory Panel, stakeholders came to agreement on the final limits for North America’s next light-duty engine oil specification from the International Lubricant Standardization and Advisory Committee. Most of the negotiations and compromises on fuel economy limits came in advance of this last meeting, and agreement regarding limits for the Sequence IVB wear test was then reached at the meeting.

Attendees also settled on viscosity grade read-across rules for the Sequence IIIH test for oil thickening and piston deposits, avoiding a potential need to run two tests per base stock for full viscosity grade coverage.

Settling all of these issues allowed stakeholders to agree on timing for the mandatory waiting period between completion of the technology demonstration period and the introduction of products promoted as being licensed for the specification. It means GF-6 first allowable use is expected to be May 1, 2020. Nine to 12 months later, ILSAC GF-6 will be mandatory for all light-duty engine oils bearing the American Petroleum Institute’s starburst trademark.

“A lot of effort over many years was needed to reach this point, including engine test development, BOI/VGRA rules, not to mention the development of the new technology,” Josh Frederick, who is chairman of both the API Lubricants Group and AOAP, told Lube Report. “I want to extend my thanks to all stakeholders in making this happen.”

API staff committed to distributing the ballot for final adoption of the specification sometime this week. The organization’s Lubricants Group also endorsed the companion API SP and Resource Conserving specs at its meeting on April 4. Proposals for API SN/Resource Conserving user language, and language about spec requirements in annexes G and Q of API 1509 have also been proposed.

The new spec is actually being divided into two – ILSAC GF-6B for SAE XW-16 oils and GF-6A for other legacy viscosity grades. Committees still need to finalize a new symbol that will identify oils licensed for GF-6B. 

The final negotiation confirmed the limits for weighted piston deposits on the new Sequence IIIH at 4.2 merits as proposed by ILSAC in a March document. The American Chemistry Council, representing lubricant additive suppliers, also agreed to fuel economy and the Sequence X chain wear limits proposed by ILSAC. ILSAC and ACC compromised on limits for the sequence IVB test. ASTM Passenger Car Engine Oil Classification Panel Chairwoman Angela Willis, of Willis Advanced Consulting, said, “Once Sequence IVB issues were resolved, most stakeholders expected rapid agreement on remaining limits.” Willis added that she “was pleased to see ILSAC GF-6 finally becoming a reality and enabling OEMs to take advantage of the improvements it will bring. It took a long time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Some details still need to be finalized to allow additive companies to efficiently run testing and product development programs. With the Sequence IIIH VGRA rules settled, the Base Oil Interchange/Viscosity Grade Read Across Panel will turn its sights to the Sequence IVB. Committee members are actively reviewing the results of the IVB BOI/VGRA matrix, and recommendations should soon be in place. In addition, now that read-across for the IIIH is settled, the committee can work on incorporating that test into Annex R, which covers the Single Technology matrix, which additive companies can utilize to help qualify the many base stocks they will need to manage for their customers.

Final ballots on the IIIH, VH and some technical principles will also need to be approved. Sources noted that none of this should impact the schedule or hinder deployment of GF-6 by May 1, 2020.

Additive companies and oil marketers will now devote significant resources to transitioning to the new specifications, undertaking test programs, making operational changes and updating labels and marketing materials. Deployment will require thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars. But new products also represent opportunity.

“Marketers are looking forward to making the new products available to their customers,” Frederick said.