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April 20, 2016

Volume 17 Issue 52

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Provisional Licensing Invoked for PCMO Specs

The American Petroleum Institute invoked provisional licensing for passenger car engine oil categories ILSAC GF-5 and API SN, SM, SL and SJ, after the industry ran out of parts for a key test.

API Senior Manager for Engine Oil Licensing and Certification Kevin Ferrick announced the decision in an April 13 letter. ASTM is seeking a solution that will allow testing labs to resume running of the ASTM D6709 Sequence VIII test. Until they succeed, provisional licensing will allow engine oil suppliers to license products without running the Sequence VIII test, but applicants are still required to provide some data showing that the oil meets that requirement.

The Sequence VIII test runs on a gasoline fueled, single cylinder research engine of the same name (originally known as the CLR L-38) and is likely the oldest test engine still in use. For SJ and SL it was still run on leaded gasoline, but subsequent categories specified that it use unleaded fuel, according to industry sources. It is a 40-hour test that measures weight loss of a copper-lead bearings, as well as viscosity loss due to mechanical shearing. Passing requires that weight loss from the bearing not exceed 26 milligrams, and the oil’s kinematic viscosity at 100 degrees Celsius must remain in the same SAE viscosity grade through the first 10 hours of the test.

The problem is that testing companies have run out of the bearings that were used for the test. ASTM’s Sequence VIII Surveillance Panel came up with replacement bearings, but they did not yield satisfactory results when used in the test. The panel then tried to develop a corrosion correction factor that would make the replacement bearings more acceptable, but that attempt was not successful. Now the panel is developing a third batch of bearings.

In a letter Jan. 14 to API, the surveillance panel’s chairman, Patrick Lang, estimated that a new batch would take three to four months to develop.

Provisional licensing allows lubricant companies to market an oil as meeting a category’s requirements without passing all of its tests. In this case, it only applies to marketers that need to run the Sequence VIII Test to qualify a formulation against the affected categories, and companies still need to provide data that supports the performance of the candidate formulation in the Sequence VII test. The data must conform to Level 2 support as described in the ACC Code of Practice.

Whenever ASTM comes up with a solution allowing resumption of Sequence VIII testing, it will notify API which will inform licensees. Licensees with provisionally licensed formulations will then have six months to obtain a passing Sequence VIII result.

The licensee requests full licensing of an oil formulation by submitting a new application through API’s online system. API will review the information and, if it approves the application, withdraw the provisional license.

If a provisionally licensed formulation fails to pass the Sequence VII test, the licensee must notify API immediately. API may demand the licensee recall the provisionally licensed oil.

If a new oil formation isn’t received by API by the end of the six-month period, the organization will cancel the provisional license for that formulation.

Engine oils granted a provisional license will be listed in API’s Directory of Licensees without any special designation. The licensee is still responsible for satisfactory performance of all engine oils granted the provisional license.

The Sequence VIII is now only used for API S category oils. The last C category listing to include the test was CG-4.

The latest dexos1 specification does include the Sequence VIII. GM told a reporter on Feb. 2 that, “We are well aware of the [Sequence VIII] issue and in process of addressing it. A letter will soon be issued to the appropriate additive and oil companies to notify them how this will be handled within the program.”