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The European association for automotive manufacturers works together with lubricant producers to test the lubricants on their parts. As innovation in both industries impacts the other, this relationship is beneficial for both.


Chemicals, used to improve the base oils properties so the lubricant can handle certain situations better. Most additives packages try to better the service life and wear protection of the oil.

During the refining stage base oils can be gradually improved and changed so certain parameters are superior. However, mineral oils can only be adapted to a limited extent. Synthetic base oils are chemicaly engineered and exceed the limits natural mineral oils have.

Still, certain parameters, characteristics or costs will make the lubricant producer opt to use base oil additives. These in base oil dissolved chemicals gives the lubricant abilities which it could not have on its own. As engines and machines keep evolving, so does the additives industry.

Industrial lubricants can be quite specific in use and a need for tailormade lubricants for machinery has increased steadily over the years.

Additives can be used to make the base oil stock suit the application neatly.Additives are either for the general engine motor oil industry or the specific industrial oil market. The engine additives are for passenger car motor oils, heavy-duty engine oils, marine engine oils and small engine (2T or 4T) motor oils. Additives for specific oils such as automatic transmission fluids, gear oils, tractor fluids, greases, metalworking fluids and compressor fluids are tailor-made depending on the final use.

There are also so-called aftermarket additives which can be bought in supermarkets or gas stations. Marketed towards car owners, they can replace depleted additives in older motor oils. However, most claims made by these products are highly suspect and not proven. In some cases they will do nothing or even damage the engine, so be careful when contemplating to use these additives.Anti-foam agentAn additive package that combats excessive foam formation and hastens bubble bursting.


Additive that tries to bind free oxygen in the oil so oxidative resistance is increased and with it service life. 

Anti-wear agent

An additive that minimizes damage done because of metal-on-metal surface contact.


The American Petroleum Institute is a US trade association representing any company that has something to do with the petroleum industry. As a historically important organization for the petroleum industry, it has produced several standards which are used worldwide to measure the quality of the industry. The grades for motor oils take the form of a ring with the quality grade written within (the so-called donut) on the label.

API classification of base oils

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Base Oil

The main substance in lubricants, base oils are refined from crude oil. The quality of base oils are depended on the refinement processes that have been performed.Link to more info (pls take from

Base oils Group I

According to API (American Petroleum Institute)

Group I - Solvent Freezing

Group 1 base oils are the least refined of all the groups. They are usually a mix of different hydrocarbon chains with little or no uniformity. While some automotive oils on the market use Group I stocks, they are generally used in less demanding applications. 

Base oils Group II

According to API (American Petroleum Institute)

Group II - Hydro processing and Refining

Group II base oils are common in mineral based motor oils currently available on the market. They have fair to good performance in lubricating properties such as volatility, oxidative stability and flash/fire points. They have only fair performance in areas such as pour point, cold crank viscosity and extreme pressure wear. 

Base oils Group III

According to API (American Petroleum Institute) classification

Group – III Hydro processing and Refining

Group III base oils are subjected to the highest level of mineral oil refining of the base oil groups. Although they are not chemically engineered, they offer good performance in a wide range of attributes as well as good molecular uniformity and stability. They are commonly mixed with additives and marketed as synthetic or semi-synthetic products.

Base oils Group IV

According to API (American Petroleum Institute) classification

Group IV - Chemical Reactions 

Group IV base oils are chemically engineered synthetic base stocks. Polyalphaolefins (PAO's) are a common example of a synthetic base stock. Synthetics, when combined with additives, offer excellent performance over a wide range of lubricating properties. They have very stable chemical compositions and highly uniform molecular chains. Group IV base oils are becoming more common in synthetic and synthetic-blend products for automotive and industrial applications. 

Base oils Group V

According to API (American Petroleum Institute) classification

Group V - As Indicated

Group V base oils are used primarily in the creation of oil additives. Esters and polyolesters are both common Group V base oils used in the formulation of oil additives. Group V oils are generally not used as base oils themselves, but add beneficial properties to other base oils. Some examples of Group V Base Oils are: Alkylated Naphthalene, Esters, Poly-alkylene glycols, Silcones, Polybutenes.

Base oil production process

Base oil production process works as follows: 

  1. Feedstock is separated into distillates and vacuum gas oils
  2. Waxy vacuum gas oil molecules flow to the hydrocracker to begin conversion
  3. Hydrogen is introduced to saturate the molecules and remove impurities such as nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen and heavy metals.
  4. Hydrocracking, under conditions of extreme temperature and pressure in the presence of a catalyst, converts aromatics molecules into saturated paraffins.
  5. The altered stock is noticeably lighter in color due to the absence of contaminants.
  6. Long waxy paraffin molecules are restructured into shorter, branched isoparaffins that resist gelling and improve low temperature pumpability.
  7. Hydrogen is introduced again to remove any remaining aromatics and impurities, enhancing the oxidation and thermal stability of the now colorless oil.

Base oils Quality Control

Base oils and all other petroleum products are continuously tested to determine their current characteristics. Depending on the results these analyses produce, the mineral oils are categorised. Quality is the defining factor for the future use of base oils as some of them are perfect for one application while others are definitely not.

The function of the lubricant will influence the choice of which base oil is selected to produce the final product. As an example, SN 150 has a lower viscosity value than SN 650, this makes SN 150 good to be used in lubricating oils for fast rotating engines while SN 650 will be used for motor oils of big, slower turning engines. As conditions change during active usage, the lubricating agent must adapt to the different situation. Of course with the increasing standards, other factors apart from lubricating become just as important (such as engine cleaning, environmental impact and performance improvement).

With petroleum products being traded worldwide, standards in quality control and quality testing are essential for businesses to ensure correct and fair global trading. Quality testing is either done by the manufactures' own lab and/or accredited neutral inspection laboratory. The manufacturer will test the petroleum products also during production as to monitor the refining processes and detect any problems in the installation via quality control.

Third party testing laboratories are professional labs which test at request of their clients the quality of an item, in Shamrocks case base oils and other petroleum products. The results that laboratories provide to their client are official proof of the quality of the specific item tested and thus are used to trade with customers. The inspection labs are accredited, both commercially and by governments, their results can't be influenced by their clients or they will risk legal penalties and lose their accreditation. Well know labs are SGS, Saybolt or Intertek.

Quality control is usually also performed by the inspection laboratory and includes services such as quantity control, certification of cleaning  and loading surveillance. These controls are implemented to guarantee good practice while handling the product and ensure the quality of the cargo during the whole supply chain. Shamrock samples its products at all stages of cargo handling so we can provide our customers with the most up to date quality reports and see to it all goes according to regulations. Should there be a discrepancy in the results samples will be retested as they are kept at least for 90 days after sampling as a safety feature.

The commonly tested parameters for base oils are color, viscosity, density, sulphur content, water content, flash point and pour point. Color is an indication of how well it is refined and if there's any contamination. A rule of thumb is the more color a base oil has, the less it is refined. If the solution is clouded, water has contaminated the sample. The density is used as an extra identifier for the liquid product. It will differ should the sample be contaminated.

Viscosity is perhaps the most important parameter as it is used to categorize the mineral oil. The result of the viscosity tests will place the base oil in its grade and provide its name i.e. SN 500 is a Group I base oil with a viscosity of 500 SUS at 100°F. A good quality base oil is equal to a base oil with good viscosity index. The index shows how well a base oil can work at different temperatures.

Sulphur and water levels are restricted and their precise concentration is needed for further processing of the base oil. Flash and pour point have to be known to determine if the mineral oil is suited for certain purposes. Pour point determines in which minimum temperatures the finished product can operate (although this can be improved with additives). Flash point is used to characterize the fire hazard of base oils. It measures when an oil vapor-air mixture will ignite.

Although most labs vary greatly in the equipment and methods they use, some brands are recognized to be essential in any lab: SpectroInc., Mettler Toledo, Metrohm and Koehler amongst others. 

Base stocks

Base oils have variety of several different names: Neutrals (100 N, 150 N, 600 N, …), Bright Stocks, grades (with regard to their finished lubricant: SAE 5, 10…; or standard tests: ISO 22, 32,...). The most common names are for Group I (SN: Solvent Neutral), for Group II (N: Neutrals) and Group III grade names refer to the viscosity (4cst, 6cst, 8cst …) at 100°C. Grade names can also refer to trademarks.

Bio-based base oils

Bio-based base oils were used much earlier than mineral based oils as they were more readily available, however these biological lubricants were abandoned at the advent of petroleum based lubes. Now, a renewed interest for environmental reasons has spurned a rapid evolving industry around bio-based base oils.

Carbon residue

As oil gets hot and oxidizes, a layer of sooth is formed. This sooth is carbon residue which impacts the effectiveness of machinery as it can interfere with not only the lubrication but also the mechanics.


Used in catalytic converters, chemical compounds will convert the pollutants in the exhaust to less harmful gasses. Lubricants and certain additives can interfere with these catalysts, other additives will try to negate or protect the catalytic converters.

Corrosion inhibitor

An additive which lowers the rate of corrosion by either the formation of a thin protective layer or by binding any dissolved oxygen


The ability of lubricants to separate from water if mixed.


Density is the weight per volume of a substance. In oils, it is usually indicated in the temperature of +15°C or +20°C, in units kg/m3. Lubricant densities range between about 700 and 950 kg/m3, depending on the quality, viscosity and additive content of the lubricant.


A standard barrel for the transport of chemicals is about 200 liters (or 55 gallons). Other volumes are available with a range from 20 to 250 liters. Read more ...


An additive which that helps the engine to be kept clean by minimizing oil sludge build-up. It keeps contaminants suspended in the lubricant and thus prevents oil sludge formation.

EHVI and VHVI base oils

EVHI and VHVI (Exteme High- and Very High Viscosity Index) oil, produced from crude oil using special processes, can be made to have properties close to those of synthetic oils. Raw material of the base oil is the paraffinic hydrocracking fraction which is further improved by removing waxes using the solvent extraction method.

The use of these base oils as components of modern motor oils is increasing, due to engine constructions that are more demanding in terms of lower emission properties and the new quality requirements of vehicle manufacturers.

Flash point

The lowest temperature at which vapor from a sample of a petroleum product or other combustible fluid will “flash” in the presence of an ignition source. The flash can be seen in the form of a small spark over the liquid.

Finished Lubricants

Base oil is used to make finished lubricants. These products vary both in function and make-up but all are used for industrial applications to ensure a good continuation of movement, transfer of heat and clean up of particulate matter. Functionality of a lubricant is determined by the base stock it is formulated from. Synthetic base oils have a very low pour point and are therefore ideal to make lubricant which operate in subzero conditions.

Motor oils are by far the most commonly used lubricant as they are needed in all vehicles. Considering the large diversity in the automotive industry (from Formula 1 race cars to a 20 year old second hand family car) very different oils are made to suit the engine type and history.

Industrial production processes require lubricating agents to keep machinery operating at an optimum level. Greases, heat transfer fluids, gear oils, hydraulic fluids or transformer oils, each will help processes to perform as needed.

Our company can offer bulk deliveries of the following finished lubricants (motor oils):

  • SAE30, CC quality
  • SAE30, CC quality, specifically for Kamaz trucks and Ikarus buses 
  • SAE30 CD quality
  • SAE40 CB quality

Fire Point

The lowest temperature at which a combustible fluid will burst into flame in the presence of an extraneous ignition source. Very little additional heat is required to reach the fire point from the flash point.


To deliver liquids in standard containers, a flexibag, which is filled with the liquid, is placed in a container so it can be shipped by rail, vessel or truck. Read more ...


It is the force resisting the relative movement of surfaces or layers. Friction results in a decrease in energy and will result in wear or degradation of some kind.

Fuel Economy

It stands for the amount of fuel used per distance travelled. Fuel consumption is the fuel economy for a distance of 100 km.

Fuel Injection

It is a system for providing combustion engines with a good fuel/air mix to improve engine performance. The fuel injector forces the fuel through a small nozzle at high pressure to obtain a good mix.

Fuel oil

The heavier fraction that is obtained from refining crude oil, it contains long hydrocarbon chains. It is mainly used to heat buildings and as fuel for heavy engines


A thickened lubricant which possesses a certain plasticity. Their consistency can range from being fluid to hard solid.

Group I

Base oils are divided in groups (from 1 to 5) with the difference between each group being either the refinement process and/or sulphur content and viscosity index.


The combinations of carbon and hydrogen atoms are named hydrocarbons. Lubricants are made of the compounds in which a few differences can be observed: the number of carbon atoms, the smaller the lighter the molecule, and the structure of the substance, naphtenic have many cyclic structures, paraffinic are made of long strings.

Hydro treating

A refining process in which base oil is exposed to high concentrations of hydrogen so it will replace any impurities such as sulphur or saturate any unsaturated hydrocarbons.

IBC packaging

Read more ...


Just as many other organizations, the International Lubricant Standardisation ans Approval Committee 

Mineral base oil

Modern mineral base oils are the result of several distillation and refining processes. The feedstock used is crude oil. This substance is not of uniform quality but consists of several thousands of hydrocarbon compounds. All these molecules exist in various grades of complexity and size, ranging from ring structures to long chains.

The hydrocarbons can be divided into three main groups: paraffinic, naphthenic and aromatic. The distillation process in the refinery separates the hydrocarbons contained in the crude into cuts based on the molecule size and/or structure.Paraffinic hydrocarbons can be further divided into two subgroups: normal paraffinic and isoparaffinic.

Paraffinic hydrocarbons are the best lubricants because of their relative inertness while they disperse air and heat, ideal properties for a lubricant. 

Furthermore, many unwanted substances as possible are removed in the process, such as a too high sulphur content, aromatic hydrocarbons, paraffin wax, etc. In other words the mineral oil production is  a physical cleaning process and the end product is a (paraffinic) base oil. Most of the hydrocarbons in the base oil are paraffinic, but it also contains naphthenic and aromatic molecules.

The final outcome can also be so-called naphthenic base oil, when the paraffinic content is less than 55% to 60%. Due to their structure their cold properties and sludge forming properties are excellent. They will be used for products which need such qualities, i.e.: motor oils in cold climates.


Derived from crude oil or natural gas, they are used as additives for fuel for gasoline engines. Methyl Tertiary-butyl ether and Ethyl tertiary butyl ether raise the oxygen content of the fuel, promotion a more complete oxidation,


A fraction of petroleum that has the typical characteristic of being very volatile, it is produced with the distillation of petroleum. It is commonly used as a solvent or, lighter fuel.

Natural gas condensate

It is a low-density mixture of hydrocarbon liquids that are present as gaseous components in the raw natural gas produced from different oil wells.


The National Lubricating Grease Institute is a trade association that represents the grease and gear lubricant industry and is heavily involved with research and technological developments in their industry. They established the NLGI grade for categorizing greases.

NLGI Grade

Set by the NLGI, it represents the consistency of a grease, going from fluid (000) to hard and solid (6).


Original Equipment Manufacturer in the automotive industry refers to parts that are made to the specification of a producer by that producer. This is done so the correct replacement parts are easy to identify. Many motor oils are tested on various specific engines which are OEM specified so the results can be compared (to a certain degree).


It is a term to describe the binding of oxygen with other atoms, which generally will result in the deterioration of the substance (such as rust). With lubricants this will result in sludge formation, acid build-up or sooth production which all interfere with the lubrication process. Oxidation is stronger at higher temperatures.

Oxidation stability

As oxidation will cause deterioration, lubricants are required to be tested on how well they can stand against oxidation, this is called the oxidation stability. 



PAO stands for Poly-alpha-olefins (or poly-α-olefins), they are polymers made of alkenes which have their double bond on the alpha or first carbon atom of the molecule. For example, 1-hexene is an alkene with 6 carbon atoms and the double bond between the first and second carbon atoms (see right). The polymerisation process will link the monomers into one giant chain. The carbon atoms after the second carbon will form branches onto the polymer chain and will influence the characteristics of the polymer.

PAO have a very low freezing point as the polymer branches prevent crystallisation. Coupled with the fact that these chains can be highly chemically engineered for different properties, PAO make excellent lubrication products for even the most demanding and high tech machinery. these polymers possess a high viscosity index and because of their production process they do not have any pollutants as mineral oils would have.

Pour Point

A widely used low temperature flow indicator, depicted as 3°C above the temperature to which a normal liquid petroleum product maintains fluidity. It is a significant factor in cold weather start-up.

Oil thickens as the temperature falls. At a certain temperature it no longer flows by its own weight. This temperature is called the pour point. The pour point depends on the viscosity and chemical structure of the oil. In paraffinic oils, stiffening is caused by the wax in the oil, which become crystals. The more the oil cools down the bigger the crystals grow, eventually forming a flow-preventing network within the oil.

Naphthenic oils have less or no wax, and they remain fluid in lower temperatures than paraffinic oils. The oil eventually becomes so stiff that it no longer flows with its own weight. Fully synthetic oils do not contain wax and their cold properties are excellent.

The pour point can be improved by using an additive that prevents the growth and interconnection of wax crystals. With the pour point, it is possible to describe approximately the cold start properties of oil, but in many cases it is not enough; it is more important to know the true oil viscosity at the starting temperature.


The Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Registration of Chemicals is the current regulation in the EU concerning the production and use of chemical substances. It is seen as the strictest law for regulating the chemical industry and affects everything being imported or produced in the EU.

Rust inhibitor

An additive package which specifically protects iron/steel from rusting by either forming a protective layer or absorbing the materials that may cause the rusting.


The Society of Automotive Engineers is an international organization that develops worldwide accepted standards for the engineering of powered vehicles. They have established a code for grading motor oils which corresponds with the viscosity characteristics of the oil.


The pollutants Sulphated Ash, Phosphorus and Sulphur are know under this abbreviation. They are grouped together as they hinder exhaust clean up and stricter emission standards.


It stands for the saturated hydrocarbon compounds. In these molecules all carbon atoms are bonded to either another carbon atom or a hydrogen atom. They are not very reactive molecules.

SN 150 

SN 150 is defined as a light grade base oil at the lower end of the specifications for Grade I light base oils. They are mainly used in lubricant and lubricant additives production. It is a Group I base oil which has undergone solvent refining and solvent dewaxing processes. Finally it was treated with hydrogen to clear out any impurities.

SN 150 serves as a base stock for several industrial lubricants:

  • General purpose oils
  • Mould oil
  • Transmission fluids
  • Gear oils
  • Metal working fluids
  • Additives

and also:

  • Hydraulic oils
  • Transformer oils

SN 500 is defined as a light grade base oil at the upper end of the specifications for Grade I base oils. They are mainly used in lubricant production. It is a Group I base oil which has undergone solvent refining and solvent dewaxing processes. Finally it was treated with hydrogen to clear out any impurities.

SN 500 serves as a base stock for several industrial lubricants:

  • Engine oils
  • Greases
  • Transmission fluids
  • Gear oils
  • Metal working fluids

and also:

  • Hydraulic oils
  • Transformer oils


A major contaminant of petroleum as it is a strong oxidizer or reducing agent. It causes  pollution and damage to engines if present in large concentrations, therefore legislation worldwide has banned the use of fuels with a high sulphur content.

Synthetic base oil

The group of synthetic base oils covers many different substances: synthetic hydrocarbons, organic esters, polyalkyline glycols, etc. Common to synthetic base oils is their production by chemical synthesis.

Synthetic PAO (Polyalphaolefine) hydrocarbons are manufactured in a process that results in isoparaffins, the desired types of hydrocarbon molecules. The raw material used is reprocessed into ethene gas (C2H4).

It is thus possible to produce the best possible lubricating oil, which entirely lacks the unwanted components, through chemical processes. This is the most commonly used synthetic base oil in modern engine lubricants.


The Total Base Number represents the reserve alkalinity in a lubricant or acidic resistance. As acids are formed during combustion, they need to be reduced to delay wear. The TAN or Total Acid Number is the inverse measurement of TBN


A turbocharger, powered by the exhaust gasses, presses the air and fuel mixture into the cylinders of the engine to improve performance. Lubricants specified for engines with a turbocharger have higher quality standards to prevent damage to the mechanical device.

Vapor Pressure

The measure of a liquids volatility. The higher the pressure at a standard test temperature, the more volatile the sample, and the more readily it will evaporate.


Measure of a fluid's resistance to flow. It is measured by timing how long a fluid flows through a standard orifice at a certain temperature. The higher the value, the more viscous the fluid. Viscosity differs with temperature so measurements always mention the temperature at which it was conducted. Tests are typically done at 40°C and 100°C.

The thicker a fluid is, the greater its viscosity. Lubricant viscosity is usually expressed with the units centistoke (mm2/s) and centipoise (mPas). Centistoke (cSt) is a unit of kinematic viscosity, based on the amount of force required to beat the internal friction of fluid.

Centipoise (cP) is a unit of dynamic viscosity, often used for expressing the internal friction of oil in low temperatures. The connection of cSt and cP is cP = cSt x fluid density. The temperature must always be given when expressing viscosity with any unit.

All oils become much thinner as the temperature rises. A typical viscosity of motor oil SAE 10W at a temperature of -20 °C may be 2,000 cP, but if it heats up to a temperature of +100 °C the viscosity is only 5.2 cSt. Kinematic viscosity is measured by the pictured Ubbelohde viscometer. It measures the time the oil requires to flow from point 1 to point 2.

Viscosity Index

The measure of the rate of change of viscosity with temperature. Heating tends to make lubricants thinner, cooling makes them thicker. The higher the viscosity index is on a particular fluid, the less of a change in viscosity there will be over a given temperature range. The viscosity index (V.I.) describes the fluid’s tendency to thin as the temperature rises. The stronger the fluid thinning the smaller the viscosity index. The V.I. of single-grade motor oils is about 95-110, and that of multi-grade motor oils can be higher than 200.


The property of a liquid that defines its evaporation characteristics. The more volatile, the lower the boiling temperature and the faster the evaporation rate will be of a liquid.


Waxes are materials which have changing properties such as having a solid state at room temperature while liquefying at higher temperatures. They can be made from several sources naturally, be it animal, vegetable or mineral, or synthetically via modern processes.

Mineral waxes are derived from the refining of crude oil, during this petroleum is vacuum distilled to create paraffinic waxes while petrolatum is de-oiled to make microcrystalline waxes.

Due to their changing nature, the lubricating effect and light breaking properties they are used in a variety of industries and applications. Most common are candle-making, coating of paper or clothing to make them water resistent, binding agent, chewing gum additive (food grade), ingredient in cosmetics, steel polisher, crayon fabrication and thermal printing inks.

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